Deluxe variety is fetching Rs. 300 for 10-kg lump and ‘gulabi’ variety Rs. 280.
With the arrival of Ugadi and Sriramanavami to follow, the price of superior varieties of jaggery has shot up at the Anakapalle market, one of the largest in the country. The deluxe variety closed at Rs.300 for 10 kg on Tuesday from Rs.290 on Saturday. The price of “gulabi” variety increased from Rs.270 to Rs.280. On Saturday, when the market opened after a week after resolving a labour problem, 1.25 lakh lumps were sold in three hours with aggressive buying by upcountry traders. “The demand mainly comes from Krishna, Guntur, and Khammam districts and, to some extent, from Warangal. In these parts, apart from Ugadi, Sriramanavami is celebrated in a big way,” says noted trader Korukonda Butchiraju.
Apart from sweet dishes for Ugadi, for Sriramanavami “panakaam” (syrupy liquid of jaggery mixed with water) is served at the pandals and made at home too.
The Anakapalle market, however, is facing stiff competition from Yerravaram in East Godavari district. In spite of selling at more than Rs.10 to Rs.15 a kg, it attracts traders because it is sold in smaller lumps. At Anakapalle, lumps of 15 kg are sold.
Analysing the reasons, Mr. Butchiraju said the practice of selling smaller pieces to suit consumer needs that originated at Mandya in Karnataka caught up in other parts. The market at Anakapalle has not so far adapted the technology in spite of the benefits that can be clearly seen, he says. However, like any other farm produce, there is hardly any comparison between the wholesale and retail price. Jaggery is selling at an almost equal price with sugar at Rs.40. In some big outlets, the price is as high as Rs.56 a kg.
For Telugus savouring the bitter-sweet Ugadi ‘pachhadi’ once in a year, jaggery is an important ingredient. “Vepapuvvu” (neem flower), once abundantly available, is now a scare commodity and is being sold in small bunches.