Greater yam farmers in doldrums due to slump in demand

Greater yam farmers in doldrums due to slump in demand
Highlights

Greater Yam farmers have been incurring losses for the past three years as this vegetable’s price nosedived in Odisha market. The loss incurred by farmer is put at Rs 50,000 an acre.

Pithapuram: Greater Yam farmers have been incurring losses for the past three years as this vegetable’s price nosedived in Odisha market. The loss incurred by farmer is put at Rs 50,000 an acre.

Though the yield is good, the price in the market is depressing. Farmers invested Rs 1.30 lakh to Rs 1.50 lakh an acre to cultivate Greater Yam and reaped 10 tonnes produce. They could sell 10 tonnes for only Rs 1 lakh, sustaining a loss of at least Rs 50,000 an acre. Last year, 10 tonnes of the greater yam fetched only Rs 60,000.

In East Godavari district, Greater Yam is cultivated in at least 1600 acres. In Pithapuram mandal, farmers raised the crop in 600 acres in Virava and Viravada villages. Some of the farmers from here took lands on lease at Yeleswaram, Rangampet, Kirlampudi, Dharmavaram, Gandepalli and Ravulapaem to raise the crop.

The farmers produce the seed locally and purchase from fellow farmers. One tonne of seed is being sold at Rs 10,000. The actual cost of production per acre is Rs 70,000, inclusive of pesticides and fertilisers. Wages paid to skilled agriculture workers to unearth the Yam is put at Rs 30,000. Transportation cost to Odisha where it is consumed more is put at Rs 40,000. On the whole, the per-acre production cost of the Yam works out to around Rs 1.50 lakh.

The product has good demand in Berhampore, Cuttack and Bhubaneswar markets. In Odisha, curry made of greater yam is served in marriage functions. Farmers say that on an average one tonne of Yam is consumed in each marriage occasions. Yam curry is served with Parotas. Rasam is also prepared using yam. Generally, middlemen visit Viravada to buy Yam. This year, there was no trace of traders from Odisha visiting the village.

Cultivators of the yam do not get any support from the government. They are not benefited under the loan waiver scheme. The crop is not covered under the crop insurance scheme either. Seeds are not subsidised. Greater yam is cultivated under commercial crops due to which it is not covered under the loan waiver benefit, farmers say. Banks are not advancing loans to the farmers. They lament that the government does not treat greater Yam producers as farmers at all.

By Saride Nageswara Rao

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