Vijayapura: After incurring heavy loss for two years owing to the outbreak of Covid – 19 pandemic, the raisin producers were in a hope of making good business this year but their hopes have been shattered as rates in the wholesale market have plunged in the last one and half months due to various factors including low demand.
In the last few weeks, raisin prices have slipped down by Rs. 50 to Rs. 60 per kilogram. The good quality raisin was being sold at Rs. 230 per kg and low quality between Rs. 130 to Rs. 140 per kg, now the high-grade quality is priced less than Rs. 190 per kg and low quality at Rs. 120 per kg, according to the officials of AMPC.
Prakash Gurikar, a grape grower and also raisin producer, said that, “It is a double blow for farmers this year because of poor climate the crop was not only damaged but yielded less and also experiencing low prices for the produce. A farmer has to spent at least Rs 1.5 lakh per acre to keep the grape plants away from disease. We are even struggling to get the production cost from selling the produce.”
The officials at the APMC claim that the price has fallen because of the poor supply, lack of demand, substandard raisins and lack of cold storages in the region. Vijayapura is the highest producer of grapes and raisins in the State. The grape is cultivated in over 14,000 hectares in the District alone. Due to the poor price in the State market, the farmers are forced to sell the dry fruit in the neighbouring state Maharashtra, where the price is a bit higher compared to the local market.
Abhaykumar Nandrekar, President of Karnataka State Grape Growers’ Association, pointed out that, “The price of raisins has not just fallen because of the poor supply and less demand but also because of the conspiracy of few traders. Since the APMC Act has been introduced in the State, the raisins market has been affected largely. The Union Government has withdrawn the Act but the State Government is yet to withdraw the same.”
“Due to this act – the APMC has lost control over the market. The Government has to step-in and regulate the price of the dry fruit for the benefit of the farmers. If the same attitude continues in the market, it will destroy the grape growers completely. The farmers will be forced to opt for other crops over grapes,” detailed Nandrekar, who is also a grape grower.
He also appealed to the Government to increase the number of cold storages in the region. “Among the total raisins produced the District has the capacity to store only 30 percent of the produce in the cold storages. Due to the lack of availability of cold storages, the farmers are forced to depend on the neighbouring states. This will increase the debt on the farmers. The Government has to act quickly through the Karnataka Grape and Wine Development Board,” appealed Nandrekar.