THANJAVUR: The fall in procurement price of maize has affected farmers, who have cultivated the crop in the district. Agriculture officials say maize is normally cultivated on 300 hectares in the district. However, the coverage has gone up to 500 hectares this time. Though procurement price at the beginning of the season was higher, it has subsequently fallen.
Maize is cultivated sporadically in the district from June. Of the all areas, the crop is predominantly cultivated in Marungulam, Kurungulam, Ezhuppatti, Thozhagirippatti, Tirukkanoorpatti. "Maize was procured at a rate of Rs 2,300 to Rs 2,500 a quintal (100 kg) a month ago. However, it now fetches only Rs 1,500 to Rs 1,700 a quintal," says P Govindaraj, a farmer of Thozhagiripatti.
Another farmer from Marugulam, Annadurai says the price, which was Rs 2,250 per quintal has now fallen to Rs 1,700. Maize procured in Thanjavur district is sent mainly to districts such as Namakkal to prepare poultry feed, says farmers.
"If the the maize received from other States is high, traders do not buy it from our areas," says Govindaraj, adding that the input cost for maize is higher than other crops. The seed itself costs about Rs 300 to Rs 350 a kg. Besides, the crop is highly prone to pest attack, especially the dreaded Fall Armyworm. Farmers have to spend a lot to control the pest, he adds.
Even as farmers harvest the crop finally, the dip in procurement price has come as a big disappointment.
"As storing the crop is not feasible during the monsoon season, farmers are selling it at whatever price that is being offered and are running into loss,"
says Rajkumar, a farmer from Ezhuppatti. To get a fair price, the government must come forward to procure maize, as it has been doing for paddy, blackgram and greengram, says Govindaraj. He also adds that this would stabilise the price in the open market, which is now dictated by private traders, who often form a syndicate and bring down the procurement price.