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Farmers dictate chilli price in Guntur market

Our Correspondent  |  Guntur 

With having a field day dictating prices, the today ruled high in the Only under debts disposed of their crop while others refused to sell their produce hoping to get better prices in the next couple of days.

hovered between Rs 2,200-2,700 per quintal for first grade red chillies, Rs 2,000-2,200 per quintal for second grade red chillies, Rs 1,000-1,400 per quintal for first grade discoloured (white) chillies and Rs 800-1,100 per quintal for second grade white chillies.

The state government is in talks with the Central Spices Board and the National Federation of Marketing (Markfed) for an immediate solution to the chilli price crisis, and today asked chilli to make use of the 'Ryothu Bandhu' scheme and keep their produce in the local cold storage units for 90 days free of cost.

Though yard officials made announcements for the same, Markfed did not begin its purchasing operations today. Earlier, the tense chilli farmers rejected the government's offer of Rs 2,700 per quintal. They said the prices would be remunerative only if first grade red chillies was purchased at Rs 4,000 per quintal and white chillies (discoloured) at Rs 1,500 per quintal.

At a workshop on mirchi crop management at the mirchi yard here, Y V Rao, former member of Parliament, told the restive farmers not to sell their produce in a hurry. "The government will take a final decision in two or three days," he said, adding, "Farmers under Ryothu Bandhu scheme would immediately get a loan up to 75-80 per cent value of the produce they would store in the cold storages. The amount would solve their immediate financial woes."

He said that the National Federation of Marketing was obliged to bear half of the losses incurred by the farmers. The Spices Board was actively exploring ways and means to boost chilli exports. "Our exporters received a number of orders from abroad as our contender in the international market, China, had recorded heavy losses in chilli crop this season." he added.

Rao said that the State Market Federation (Markfed) would purchase chillies at Rs 2,700 per quintal, as fixed by the government. "This rate is tentative," he said, adding that the district administration had conveyed to the government that a price below Rs 3,000 would mean that farmers may end up with heavy losses.

The farmers pointed out that the two untimely cyclone had damaged the crop in many parts of the district. About 50-80 per cent of the harvested crop turned white in a majority of the villages. They said that they had incurred expenses of around Rs 2,000 per quintal up to the harvesting stage and around Rs 900 per quintal on sundry expenses like transporting.

Farmers also pointed out that the state government had not compensated them for the cyclone-damaged chilli crop as was the case in paddy and other crops. Also, there was no minimum support price policy for chillies. They finally relented after officials assured them that they would not be put to any loss.

Blaming the traders' 'syndicate' squarely for the fluid situation in the mirchi yard, Rao accused it of cheating the farmers. "Brokers were charging a commission of four per cent per quintal instead of two per cent. They were resorting to erratic weighing and collecting Rs 18 per quintal under 'other expenses'," he said.

First Published: Thu, March 04 2004. 00:00 IST