Farmers call off harvest as price of lady's finger plummets

Being one of the extensively grown vegetable crops in the district, bhendi is cultivated on thousands of hectares here and most markets in the district procure the vegetable from local farmers.

Published: 28th November 2022 01:27 AM  |   Last Updated: 28th November 2022 01:27 AM   |  A+A-

Image for representational purpose only. (Photo | Wikimedia commons)

Image for representational purpose only. (Photo | Wikimedia commons)

Express News Service

MADURAI:  Excess supply and plummeting demand have led to a drop in vegetable prices at markets in Madurai. Farmers who cultivated bhendi (lady's finger) are the worst affected with the vegetable only fetching them Rs 5-Rs 7 per kg. In this situation, many farmers are delaying harvest hoping the prices will pick up in the coming days. "The harvest expenses are higher than what we would earn from the market," they said.

Being one of the extensively grown vegetable crops in the district, bhendi is cultivated on thousands of hectares here and most markets in the district procure the vegetable from local farmers. Bhendi enjoyed decent demand throughout the year, but it plummeted just when the harvest season began causing several farmers to call off reaping.

When contacted, N Chinnamayan, president of the central market all traders federation in Madurai, said, "Owing to the increased arrival and drop in demand, the price of bhendi has notably dropped to Rs 10 per kg in the wholesale market. Usually, the prices of vegetables would be moderately higher during the rainy season. But this year, the monsoon has not brought much rain and hence the produce arrives at markets ceaselessly."

He also added that though the arrival of tomatoes from local cultivators got affected due to the rainfall in October damaging harvest-ready crops, the additional arrival from neighbouring states has at present brought down the vegetable price to Rs 10 per kg, as against the expected rate of Rs 60 during this period.

From sowing till cultivation, a bhendi farmer has to spend an average of nearly Rs 30,000 per acre, said STR Pandian, a bhendi farmer from Karumathur village in Madurai. "The crop requires maintenance throughout the season. Despite having a bumper yield we are not able to earn our production costs back. We have incurred additional expenses like Rs 1,000-Rs 1,500 (daily wage for four labourers) per acre, and then a daily transportation charge of Rs 2,000. Even after all this, we are receiving only an average of Rs 5 per kg," he told TNIE.

He added that harvesting bhendi is a highly painstaking job. The plant's rough fibre would bruise the skin, so workers have to always wear gloves and long sleeve dresses during the harvests. On average, bhendi farmers are facing a loss of Rs 30,000-Rs 33,000 per acre loss due to the price drop, Pandian said.

Considering the hardships of farmers, the State government should fix an MSP for the vegetables, demanded M Raman, farmer and functionary of the Mullai Periyar Farmers Association. The farmers also added that they are considering cultivating another crop in the coming season, after taking a major hit due to cultivating bhendi this season. 



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