Vegetable farmers in Pollachi hit hard by pandemic

A worker takes a nap at the deserted MGR Wholesale Vegetable Market in Coimbatore on Sunday.   | Photo Credit: M_PERIASAMY

A vegetable farmer at Sultanpet in Coimbatore district had to dump the harvest last week as there were no buyers.

Rakimuthu, another vegetable farmer at Aandipalayam, Navakarai, has snake gourd on 70 cents and is hoping to harvest soon. But, he is not sure of buyers.

Moorthy, another vegetable grower at Pollachi, says there are nearly 300 acres in Pollachi and nearby areas in Coimbatore district that are under climber vegetables (snake gourd, bitter gourd, ridge gourd, and bottle gourd). The months of April-June see high harvest of these vegetables. This year, with the spread of the pandemic these farmers face acute shortage of workers and with the lockdown there are no buyers.

“We can start harvesting from 45 days or so and it continues for nearly three months. Buyers will come to the farms and take the vegetables, especially when the area under these vegetables is large. However, this year, the Kerala market is closed completely and buyers are not willing to take the vegetables,” he says.

The local markets are closed and retail and wholesale traders in Coimbatore wanted only limited quantities. Retail outlets close early because of restrictions and hence, sales have dropped, he says.

If a gourd variety is sold for ₹ 30 to ₹ 45 a kg in the retail market, farmers are selling it for ₹ 7 a kg, he points out.

Mr. Rakimuthu points out that snake gourd is sold by farmers for ₹ 3 a kg. “A farmer spends about ₹ 40,000 an acre for snake gourd. If the harvest and sales are good, he will realise nearly ₹ 1.4 lakh are profit. If the price drops below ₹ 8 a kg, he suffers loss,” Mr. Rakimuthu explains.

These farmers have appealed to the government to come out with support and solution. This is an unprecedented situation and farmers never anticipated such a fall in demand. Most of them are dumping the vegetables and incurring huge losses. The government should support them, they say.

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Printable version | Jun 14, 2021 9:20:13 AM |

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