GUNTUR: Guntur district tops in chilli production in the country. Due to its unique colour and pungency, it also has a huge demand in China, Myanmar and Sri Lanka. Generally, chilli is cultivated as Kharif crop in about three lakh acres in the district. In 2020, most of the crop, which was in early stage of cultivation, was affected by a viral infection. As a result, the farmers destroyed their crop and sowed seeds for the second time, thereby increasing the expenditure of farmers. Normally, a farmer incurs Rs 1 lakh to Rs 1.5 lakh per acre to raise the crop.
Due to sowing of seeds for the second time, the whole process of cultivation got delayed by a month or two in most parts of the district. After suffering huge losses, farmers hoped for a better crop last year. But Cyclone Nivar shattered their dreams. Due to stagnant water in the agriculture fields, the quality of chilli was affected. The farmers got a minimum of 25 to 30 quintals of yield per acre and a maximum of 35 to 40 quintals of yield for each acre.
In another jolt to farmers, Covid-19 outbreak forced the closure of Asia’s biggest chilli market yard in Guntur last year. However, this year, the farmers started bringing their yield to the market yard since January last week hoping to do brisk business. Normally, the trading activity beings from March 1 and lasts till May 10, and it will hit the peak in April.
Guntur chilli is a ‘hot’ favourite even in China. This year, chilli exports to China got delayed due to the ongoing festive season there. For the past one week, chilli in large quantities was being sold in the market yard. Of 1,25,496 bags of chilli arrived at the Guntur market yard on Tuesday, 1,19,137 bags were sold. Sambayya, a chilli farmer from Prathipadu, who came to the yard to sell his crop, said that he cultivated chilli in five acres of leased land.
As the crop was lost due to viral disease last year, he said that he had to take loan from his landowner. He said that he wanted to pay off his loans by selling his produce even though there is a marginal decline in price.
Another farmer, Ravi from Nallapadu, said that he had stored his stock in the cold storage, last year. Due to Covid-19 outbreak, the exports came to a halt. Later, when the exports resumed, the demand for chilli went up and the price skyrocketed to Rs 20,000 per quintal. However, this year, he is just hoping to get back his investment as the quality of the crop was affected due to Cyclone Nivar.
Srinivasa Rao, another farmer from Tadepalli, stored his produce in the cold storage. He said that there are 83 cold storages in the district and most of them get booked by April.
It’s business as usual
As the market trends indicate that the price of chilli may dip in the next few weeks, farmers are in a hurry to sell their produce
Most of the farmers are selling their produce even though the prices of all varieties have decreased by Rs 1,500 to Rs 2,000 per quintal
The price of Teja variety of chilli per quintal is Rs 12,500 to Rs 13,500; 334 variety — Rs 10,000 to Rs 11,800; 341 variety — Rs 13,000-Rs 14,000; Super-10 variety — Rs 11,000 to Rs 11,500, Armoor variety — Rs 10,000 to Rs 11,000 and 5531 variety — Rs 11,000 to Rs 13,000