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Enthused by last year's high demand for chillies, Mohan Behera of Bada Madhapur village in Ganjam district raised the crop in over one acre land this time, hoping to get Rs 30-35 per kg. However, his dream was shattered as the price of green chilli plummeted to Rs 4 to Rs 5 per kg this year.
Like Mohan, several chilli growers suffered huge loss due to price crash as in case of tomato growers in the district. "We have invested around Rs one lakh per acre to raise the green chilli. As the price of the crop fell sharoply, we can get back only Rs 25,000 to Rs 30,000," said Sarat Khuntia of the same village. Generally local commission agents procure the crop from the farmers and to supply to the chilli yards in Guntur and other areas in Andhra Pradesh. This time, they could not procure due to reduced demand, said Kishor Reddy, newly elected ZP member, who is also a chilli farmer. He demanded setting up of a cold storage in the area to preserve the vegetable crops. In protest against the distress sale, the farmers of Bada Madhapur area, where chilli was cultivated in around 500-hectares, staged road blockade over the week-end dumping bagful of green chillies. Teshildar of Chhatrapur S K Sahu has assured the agitators that the attention of the government would be drawn to their plight. Bumper crop and reduced demand were be the major reasons for the price crash of green chilli this year, said Deputy Director of Horticulture, Ganjam, Bhagaban Das. He said the acreage of the chilli in the district this year was 5421-hectares against last year's around 5000 hectares. "Since chilli is not a perishable product, we advised the farmers not to go for distress sale and to make it dry to fetch remunerative price," said Das. He, however, said marketing of the produce was not their area. "Our job is only to increase the productivity of the crops," he said.
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