Farmers belonging to the Elavancherry Karshaka Samithi numbering 214 from 16 groups have destroyed around 15 tonnes of snake gourd and four tonnes of cucumber in the last 10 days and dumped them near the riverbanks since there were no takers for their produce.
“We were getting only Rs 5 for snake gourd and Rs 3 for cucumber per kilogram. Therefore we stopped plucking snake gourd. Both snake gourd and cucumber are being grown as a by-crop along with the plantain and bitter gourd crops. The cucumbers were cut and used as manure for the plantain crop itself,” said R Sivadas, president of the Elavancherry Karashaka Samithi.
The prices of vegetables have witnessed a drastic fall and the farmers are all set to incur huge losses this year. “Many farmers were not plucking vegetables like snake gourd since the Vegetable and Fruit Export Promotion Council (VFPCK) was procuring it for Rs 6 per kilogram. The price is not enough even to meet the labour costs,” said Aravindan, a vegetable farmer from Vithunassery.
Only the prices of tomato and small onion were sold above Rs 20 per kilogram. All the remaining vegetables were sold more than 50 to 80 per cent below the prices which prevailed a month ago. The retail price of bindi fell to Rs 10 per kilogram from Rs 50 and Rs 60 a month ago, snake gourd was priced at Rs 7 per kilogram while it was Rs 20 earlier, while the prices of other vegetables recorded a sharp slump as follows: bitter gourd from Rs 35 to Rs 13, cow pea to Rs 10 from Rs 45, beans from Rs 50 to Rs 15, chilli from Rs 100 to Rs 15 and drum stick from Rs 60 to Rs 10 per kilogram. “The weak rainfall had a positive impact on the yield. The market was flooded with an extra 15 tonnes of vegetables this season.
“We have opened four markets at Nemmara, Vithunassery, Elavancherry and Kollengode and were procuring 100 tonnes of vegetables from the farmers on a daily basis,” said Agriculture officer of Perumatty krishi bhavan Jose. “For the last two days we have increased the procurement to 120 tonnes. We were procuring bitter gourd and cucumber for Rs 13 per kilogram , snake gourd for Rs 6 per kilogram, cucumber for Rs 3 and Rs 5 per kilogram, ash gourd and pumpkin for Rs 9 and Rs 10 per kilogram and bindi for Rs 10 per kilogram from the farmers. The Horticulture Corporation has promised to purchase 10 tonnes, but for the last two days they have only procured between 3-4 tonnes,” said district manager of VFPCK Arun Kumar.
He said the farmers were destroying only the damaged snake gourds. “It is the oversupply which has dented the fortunes of the farmer.”