Closure of hill-produce shops hits rural farmers in Kozhikode

Huge quantities of agriculture produce yet to reach market

The indefinite closure of shops by hill-produce merchants following the lockdown is creating trouble of hundreds of hapless rural farmers in Kozhikode district. Huge quantities of agriculture produce, including food crops and cash crops, are yet to reach market with uncertainty continuing in the sector.

Though large-scale farmers who have better storage facilities and other sources of income, are able to manage the crisis, small-scale farmers are on the receiving end. The demand raised by local farmers to ensure the functioning of hill-produce merchants’ outlets at least once a week is yet to be taken up seriously by the government.

The situation is distressing for large number of farmers who have ventured into spice farming. K. Joy, a clove farmer from Kozhikode’s Koombara, says the price of the produce has plummeted to an unexpected level. There is no quick way out other than just wait till the end of the lockdown period, he rues.

Hit by the crisis, some of the rural farmers have started approaching hill-produce merchants in their areas for temporary credits. They hope that the borrowed amount can be repaid after the lockdown.

Options minimal

The unavailability of labourers for farm jobs too has emerged as a challenge for many small entrepreneurs. Most of the small-scale units engaged in the production of coconut-based value-added products are now going through a tough time. As options are minimal for effective product marketing, many such units now remain closed.

“The only relief now is the moratorium declared by the government on various loans. However, it will not address the financial crisis completely. There are many farmers like me who get their daily income by selling agriculture produce,” says Nelson Mathew, a native of Thiruvambady. He says there are also farmers who are unable to go for any other manual job now because of the stringent lockdown rules.

Farmers’ organisation leaders say procurement drives initiated by the government to overcome the price fall of cash crops like cashew and coconut too have been proved futile for many with the outbreak of COVID-19. K. Johnson, leader of a settler farmers’ organisation, says a separate relief package or interest-free loans are the need of the hour to support the ailing sector.

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Printable version | Jul 11, 2020 5:30:19 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/kozhikode/closure-of-hill-produce-shops-hits-rural-farmers/article31272044.ece

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