Salvation from shackles of syndicates
Farmers in the district are jubilant over the state government’s decision to set up exclusive markets for sweet lemon in 12 acres, lemon in 8 acres and gherkins in 2.19 acres as their long-cherished dream is going to be fulfilled soon.
Market yards for lemon, gherkin growers
Nalgonda: Farmers in the district are jubilant over the state government’s decision to set up exclusive markets for sweet lemon in 12 acres, lemon in 8 acres and gherkins in 2.19 acres as their long-cherished dream is going to be fulfilled soon. The three crops occupied an important position after paddy and cotton cultivation in the district.
The exclusive markets will save farmers from middlemen’s clutches who exploit farmers by lifting the farm produce at a price much less than the prevailing market prices. Lemons, sweet lemons and gherkins are exported to various states and other countries. For want of proper marketing facilities farmers are always getting duped at the hands of the middlemen.
During the past two decades the area under sweet lemon cultivation multiplied rapidly. Nalgonda, Munugodu and Devarakonda Assembly constituencies are renowned for the fruit’s cultivation. Almost every second farmer raises the crop. The area under the crop is 2.5-lakh acres in the district. The volume of sweet lemon crop annually ranges between Rs 1800 crore and Rs 2000 crore. The fruit is exported to Delhi, Nagpur and Kolkata.
Sweet lemon commands Rs 35000 a ton at the most. There were days when a ton of the fruit was sold for the paltry Rs 10,000 a ton. Middlemen form syndicates and procure sweet lemon from the garden gate by quoting lower price. Even when the farmers on their own took the fruit to the Gaddiannaam market in Hyderabad, the situation was no better.
The farmers brought this problem to the notice of the state government and sought an exclusive market for the fruit in the district. The government responded positively and gave its green signal to set up a sweet lemon market in 12 acres at Gandhamvarigudem. Officials have already identified suitable land for construction of the market. Further, the farmer has been appealing to the government for setting up of sweet lemon processing units as the shelf life of the fruit is short.
Apart from the sweet lemon, the other widely cultivated crop in the district is lemon. Nakrekal, Kattangur, Narkatpalli, Chityala, Ketepalli mandals are renowned for lemon cultivation. Lemons from these locations are exported to Hyderabad, Bangaluru, Kolkata, Delhi, Mumbai and Chennai. Nakrekal has been the hub of lemon cultivation of the district over the past two decades. Middlemen from various parts of the country buy lemons from here by charging a commission of 15 to 20 per cent.
There were instances of traders making good their escape after buying lemons from farmers and without paying them. The volume of lemon trade in Nakrekal and its adjoining areas is put at Rs 200 crore to Rs 300 crore annually. Major Irrigation Minister T Harish Rao recently laid foundation stone for the lemon market to be set up at Nakrekal in eight acres at a cost of Rs 2 crore.
Gherkins emerged as the most promising source of income for farmers of Devarakonda region for the past 10 years. The crop has become a cash cow for the farmers. The crop is cultivated widely in PA Palli and Kondamallepalli in Devarakonda Assembly constituency and Peddavoora, Anumula and Tirumalagiri mandals of Nagarjunasagar Assembly constituency. Gherkins are cultivated in around 1000 hectares in the district.
On an average, 700 quintals of gherkins are cultivated in the region. Around 500 to 600 farmers are deriving direct benefit through cultivation of the crop. Gherkins produced here are exported to Hyderabad, Mahabubnagar, Khammam, Pebberu, Shamshabad, Nagarkurnool, Vijayawada, Guntur, Narsaraopeta and Tamil Nadu.
Middlemen are lifting gherkins at the farm gate at a price of Rs 300 to Rs 400 a quintal which is lower than the market prices. Establishing a market here would save the farmers transport and other incidental costs and would pave the way for their economic development.
On a representation made by the farmers, the government earmarked 2.19 acres at Konamekalavarigudem stage-II in Angadipet panchayat. It also earmarked Rs 60 lakh for construction of a market yard. Meanwhile, Marketing and Irrigation Minister, T. Harish Rao, reaffirmed on the floor of the State Legislative Council the state government’s commitment to construct market yards for sweet lemons, lemons and gherkins in the district.
By B Ashok