A group of irate chilli farmers went on a rampage, damaging furniture in front of some of the shops of the commission merchants at the vegetable market yard near the DRDA office here in the early hours of Monday.
According to sources, the simmering resentment among the farmers against the alleged exploitation by a network of ‘errant’ commission agents and ‘greedy’ traders at the market sparked violent protest by a section of farmers. The chilli farmers were sore over the traders’ alleged refusal to buy their produce on “unjustified grounds”.
The trouble broke out on Sunday night when the traders allegedly offered low price for the chilli produce much below the prevailing rate of Rs. 1,350 per quintal. The farmers, who brought their chilli produce from far off places including the neighbouring mandals in Warangal and Nalgonda district in large quantities, sought remunerative price for their produce, in vain.
When the traders and commission agents abruptly left the market after downing their shutters without honouring their commitment to buy the chilli produce on Sunday night, the farmers turned impatient.
Earlier, the angry farmers spilled on to the streets and staged a dharna on the bypass road around midnight. A section of them ransacked the furniture, including some plastic trays, kept in front of the closed shops at the market in the early hours of Monday. About 300 quintals of chilli got piled up at the yard leaving the hapless farmers in quandary.
“The traders are so merciless that they made us to wait here the whole night without purchasing our chilli produce,” deplored Banothu Hemanthu, a farmer of Burkacharla in Nalgonda district. “We don’t need the sympathy of the leaders and officials. We just want remunerative price for our chilli produce,” he said.
Benami transactions alleged
“The commission agents, in connivance with the greedy traders, are minting money by offering us meagre prices and exporting our chilli at an exorbitant price through benami transactions,” charged Bavsingh, a farmer of Maripeda in Warangal district.
Deputy Speaker Mallu Bhatti Vikramarka and Collector I. Srinivas Sri Naresh visited the market yard.
Collector’s assurance to farmers
The Collector assured the aggrieved farmers that criminal action would be taken against the merchants if they were found guilty of misusing their licences and cheating the farmers.
Mr. Vikramarka said the district administration would initiate appropriate steps to purchase the entire chilli produce at remunerative price.