Special Correspondent

The price of jaggery crashes by a margin of Rs.50 per lump

A similar situation prevailed in 2001, say traders

VISAKHAPATNAM: Jaggery trading was suspended since Thursday at Anakapalle, the biggest jaggery market yard in the State, after raids on the vehicles carrying black jaggery and curbs in the two the Godavari districts and other places in the State.

The police clampe-down on the vehicles came in the aftermath of an incident last month at a village near Amalapuram in East Godavari district in which 18 persons were killed after consuming cheap liquor. Black jaggery is widely used in the preparation of such liquor along with certain chemicals. The prices of all sorts of jaggery - black and white – crashed by a margin of roughly Rs.50 per lump (of 10 kg each) in the market yard and the merchants were finding it difficult to trade in the commodity.

Farmers protest

The farmers were also unhappy at the crash and to register their protest they stopped trading at the market yard.

According to traders, a similar situation was witnessed in 2001 when excise authorities imposed curbs on black jaggery for the same reason and trading had to be suspended for a fortnight.

Finally, the Government relented and with restrictions the production and sale of black jaggery was allowed.

The jaggery prices were very encouraging this season before the liquor tragedy. The prices went up to nearly Rs.340 a lump for the white varieties and even the black varieties were sold up to Rs.320 a lump.

After the Amalapuram incident, the prices crashed to Rs.250 to Rs.270 per lump of 10 kg for all varieties and grades, hitting the farmers hard. The arrivals, when the trading was suspended, were in the range of 20,000-25,000 lumps a day and the farmers are apprehensive that the problem, if it lasts longer, may adversely affect jaggery production and sale.

The quality may also be hit, if the cane is not harvested and crushed in time.

The traders and farmers are planning to represent to the State Government on the issue and a bandh was also planned at Anakapalle town.