Nuzvid mango growers grapple with poor yield, non-remunerative prices
The prospects of becoming rich overnight are luring horticulture farmers to fell trees and convert agricultural lands to residential plots around Nuzvid town. Battered by a poor mango crop and non-remunerative prices for over a decade, mango farmers are looking for ways of getting out of a situation that seems spirally down into a debt trap.
The poor returns from mango gardens and the sudden increase in prices of land are forcing farmers to seriously consider selling their holdings and moving to town.
Land prices have shot up in Gollapalli and Meerjapuram, two small villages on the Nuzvid-Hanuman Junction Road. The prices of land here have doubled from Rs. 50 lakh an acre to Rs. 1 crore in the past few weeks.
The prime reason for the increase in land prices is word that the new capital of the residual State of Andhra Pradesh would be established in the vast endowment lands that once belonged to Ragunatha Swami Temple located between Gollapalli and Meerjapuram. Most of the temple land has since been encroached and is being enjoyed by the rich.
Mango farmer C.T. Srinivasa Rao said prices of land in Kanimerala, Chandrala, T.Gannavaram, Eedara, Ganapavaram, Kotha Mallavalli and Katrayanapadu had increased suddenly.
“This area is rich in horticultural crops like mango, banana, cocoa, coconut, palm oil and guava. But, these farmers are tempted to sell their lands. For the mango farmers the temptation is greater because they get ready cash by cutting down trees. A farmer can get up to Rs 6 lakh for the 100 trees in his garden. The returns from mango are falling every year,” he said.
If the capital is not established as expected the prices of land are likely to plummet, but farmers will have to cut down their mango trees by then. They will then be forced to go for crops like maize, groundnut and in extreme situation tobacco, Mr Srinivasa Rao said.