KERALA

Uncertain times for ginger farmers

Farmers' plight: Farmers in Wayanad taking a premature harvest of ginger owing to the spread of various diseases affecting the rhizomes.

Farmers' plight: Farmers in Wayanad taking a premature harvest of ginger owing to the spread of various diseases affecting the rhizomes.  

: The rock bottom price of ginger in the market for the past few months and diseases afflicting the rhizomes have put to hardship ginger farmers in Wayanad, a major ginger cultivating area in the State.

The spot price of fresh ginger in the Meenangadi market on Monday was Rs. 400 a bag (60 kg) as against Rs.1,200 a bag in the corresponding period last year. The price of monsooned ginger (old ginger) was Rs. 800 a bag; it was Rs.3,000 during the same period last year.

The price of tender ginger also fell to Rs.250 a bag in the market as against Rs.850 last year. Many farmers in the district had taken up ginger cultivation this year in view of the high prices in the market for the past few years. Now, they face the risk of suffering huge losses owing to the spread of crop diseases and the sharp fall in prices.

Oversupply after a premature harvest of the crop was the main reason for the low price, E. Benny of Elevumthuruthel Traders, a ginger dealer in Meenangadi, told The Hindu . Rajan, a small-scale farmer at Ambalavayal, said he had spent nearly Rs.90, 000 on ginger cultivation on one acre of rented land. But the rhizome wilt disease began to spread when his crop sprouted .He said he destroyed the entire crop by tilling the land and planted banana seedlings instead, a few days ago.

“I purchased the ginger seeds in February at Rs.2,750 a bag and the current price for fresh ginger is a meagre Rs.400 a bag,” he lamented .

The condition of other farmers in the area is no different, he added. Many ginger farmers in the district are not sure whether they can recover even a fraction of their investment, sources said.

Crop diseases such as rhizome wilt and bacterial wilt had spread considerably this year, especially in ginger cultivated in low-lying areas of the district, owing to failure to take precautionary measures, including proper drainage facility, P. Vikraman, Principal Agriculture officer said.

Excessive application of fertilizers, especially nitrogen fertilizer, for a sudden vegetative growth aided the spread of diseases, he added .

The high moisture content in the atmosphere during the monsoon season also helped to multiply the fungal and bacterial attack affecting the rhizome, he said.

According to preliminary data of the Agriculture Department, ginger is cultivated in 6,000 hectares this year as against 5,450 hectares in 2009-10.

Recommended for you