SAMBALPUR: Distress sale and lack of market linkage are forcing farmers of Kuchinda to give up cultivating ‘Bamra chilli’, which has earned a distinct identity like Guntur chilli over the years.
Bamra and villages nearby under Kuchinda block are popular for growing the special variety of chilli which has a distinct flavour, thick skin and high pungency. In the past, traders from across the country camped at Kuchinda to procure Bamra chilli.
However, Agriculture department’s apathy towards promoting, procuring and marketing support for farmers has been resulting in distress sale year after year, forcing growers to rethink. When the state government opened a mandi to facilitate sale of chillies in the sub-division in 2016, farmers hoped for a fair price that would at least protect their interest if not assure high returns.
Farmers got registered with the regulated market committee (RMC) and procurement took off well, but it got derailed in the due course. Head of Milita Krushak Sangathan, Kuchinda, Himansu Sekhar Mahapatra was one of the largest chilli growers in the block.
Until last year, he grew chillies on seven acres but this year, he shifted back to paddy farming. "I have grown chillies for more than 22 years. It had become a traditional crop for our region but chilli farming is no longer promising," he said. Like him, many farmers have backed out from chilli farming. This year, chillies have been grown over only 40 acres of land in Kuchinda block.
Farmers have accused the RMC of mismanagement which has forced them against the wall. Until five years back, the price farmers got by selling their produce in open market varied between Rs 100 per kg and Rs 130 a kg.
But, ever since they started selling it through the market yards, the price came down to Rs 60 to Rs 80 per kg. "Blame it on the procurement policy of the RMC. Also, the Government is yet to declare the minimum support price of chillies," said Himanshu.
Local traders are given first preference in the process and there is restriction on the quantity of chillies that traders from outside can procure. As a result, traders from other states have stopped procuring Bamra chilli and local traders are cashing in on the situation by buying them at low prices.
Farmers said that government should also set up a processing plant for chillies. Although the horticulture wing has a scheme for setting up chilli processing unit with provision of subsidy from government, farmers are not aware of it due to lack of promotion.
Chillies are now being sold at Rs 60-80 per kg against Rs 100-130 per kg five years back
Locals traders are given preference over those from other districts
There is restriction on the quantity of chillies that outside traders can procure