Varaprasad, a tobacco farmer, has hoped to make decent yields thanks to the favorable crop yields on his farm. But things took a bad turn as the surge in infections resulted in a fortnightly suspension of auctions, as was the case in traditional tobacco growing areas in Prakasam and Nellore counties last year.
The decision was made after Tobacco Board officials and Hamalis were infected with the virus, according to a breeder from the village of Mangamoor.
When the plant regulator decided to temporarily close the auction platforms until the end of May, prices for various types of tobacco fell by 15-30 yen per kg, according to Tobacco Board sources. The producers of the main commercial culture in the drought-prone parts of the two districts have only been able to market 20.98 million kg since the start of the auctions in mid-March.
“The farmers now have no idea how to liquidate over 50 million kg of the products they have left and want the state government to put Markfed into operation like last year,” says P. Bhadri Reddy, a farmer leader from Kondepi.
All branches of the farmers, including cotton, chilli and legume farmers, keep their fingers crossed as prices fall south.
However, the pandemic has put a smile on the faces of sweet lime farmers as the price has doubled for the first time to exceed ₹ 1 lakh per tonne for the first time thanks to the growing demand for the vitamin C-rich fruit. Sweet lime is grown on over 50,000 hectares in the western parts of the Prakasam district.
There are no buyers for the famous Ulavapadu mangoes as inland merchants have not made visits to orchards to make purchases given the interstate curbs.
Chili farmers who have successfully survived the first wave of COVID-19 can no longer be compensated for in view of the market glut. “Even at half the price of last year there are no buyers,” complains a breeder Srinivasa Rao from Inkollu. The spice plant, which is grown on over 70,000 acres in the district, valued 16,000 yen per quintals last year after global demand increased.
Bengali gram, corn, red gram and rice producers are forced to sell their products under the MSP. “Despite rising labor costs, market prices for almost all crops are below the MSP,” complains a progressive farmer Chunchu Chalamaiah.
The turn of events gives credibility to farmers’ calls for legal support to the MSP regime and an increase in subsidies for all farm inputs as the country’s food security is at stake, said the Prakasam District Chairman of the All India Kisan Sangharsh Coordination Committee , Ch. Ranga Rao.