Kerala farmers fail to get even base price; seek govt intervention
Thiruvananthapuram: The assurance and promises given by the state government have gone futile. The farmers in Kerala continue to struggle as low price and lack of demand rule markets. Lack of demand forces farmers to sell the agricultural products at cheaper rates to avoid big loss. In addition to the Covid-19 woes, this is a cause of concern for the farmers and they desperately hope for immediate support from the government.
The production of farm produce has gone high with the ‘subhikshakeralam’ project implemented by the government during the last lockdown period. This led to oversupply in markets and the administration failed to place procurement agencies to help farmers.
Tapioca and plantain farmers suffered the most as they couldn’t even find half the base price. Farmers sold tapioca for less than Rs 10, which would not even meet the production expenses. The price of pineapple came down to Rs 12 when the base price was Rs 15. However, plantain farmers in Wayanad get Rs 30 for banana crops (nenthran kaya) against the base price of Rs 24.
It was in October the Agriculture Department declared base price for 16 varieties of vegetables. A sum of Rs 30 cr was also set aside for the implementation of this. A committee was also formed, with the district collector as its hairman, to decide on base price and to procure and sell produces from farmers directly through Horticorp and other cooperative societies.
The committee also reached a consensus to make use of these agencies to procure products at base price when the market price goes down. However, it failed to find procurement agencies so far in many districts. The committee rejected applications from many agencies after spotting the lack of distribution networks and proper procuring facilities.
The notes of former minister Thomas Isaac about the struggles faced by current Minister of Devaswom K Radhakrishnan in farming have gone viral. “A group, including Radhakrishnan, had taken a loan from cooperative bank for tapioca farming. Unfortunately, at the time of harvest, the first Covid-19 lockdown came in place and forced them to sell produces at lower prices. Their attempts to sell it after drying were also not successful. I couldn’t fully understand this,” said Isaac.
If a powerful minister struggles like this, one can easily imagine the gravity of common farmers’ predicaments. It demands more attention and action from the government side and the concerned minister must devote more attention to end farmers’ woes.