Like every year, farmers in the drought-prone district cultivated Bengal gram, an alternative to tobacco, in over 2.25 lakh acres during the rabi in November-December, unmindful of the disaster that was awaiting them.
When the second wave of the pandemic struck, the prices of both JJ11 and KAK2 varieties fell by 10 to 15% leaving the farmers in a fix. A few of them, especially tenant farmers, who sold their produce at the time of harvest itself(March-April) were fortunate as the price of JJ11 variety ruled close to the minimum support price of ₹5,100 per quintal in the market.
The others who did not sell the produce then are ruing their fates as the transactions have come to negligible levels now, said All India Kisan Sangharsh Coordination Committee Prakasam district Convenor Chunduri Ranga Rao. Only those are parting with their produce who have no other option but to liquidate the stocks, he said.
Now, the price has come down to ₹4,500 per quintal while the price of KAK2 dropped to ₹800 from the pre-COVID second wave price of ₹6,000 per quintal, laments a group of farmers in Inkollu village.
While on one hand those who have put the stocks in cold storage units are a worried lot due to the fall in prices, on the other, owners of the storage units are keeping their fingers crossed as some of them had not lifted the stocks idling for 3 years.
Untimely rains had also played a spoilsport, which led to the decrease in productivity by about 1 to two quintal, complained a farmer K.Koteswara Rao, who has grown the protein-rich crop in 10 acres.
Now that the partial curfew is all set for further relaxation from Monday, the farmers are hoping for the State government to intervene in the market without any loss of time to liquidate the over-11 lakh quintal stock in the district.
The State government should ensure at least ₹7,000 per quintal to get some decent returns as per the formula evolved by noted Agriculture Scientist M.S.Swaminathan, said Andhra Pradesh Rythu Sangam District Secretary P.Hanumantha Rao.