GUNTUR: The price of chillies dropped steeply this season and chilli growers have demanded that the government purchase their produce. The Guntur district red chilli is world famous and 93 lakh chillies were cultivated in the Guntur district. Last year, chillies fetched a good price of Rs 14,000 per quintal but this year it dropped to Rs 3, 000 to Rs 6,000 per quintal due to syndicating by the traders and because of other reasons. The chilli traders analyzed that as the chilli price touched Rs 14,000 to Rs 16,000 per quintal last year, many turned to chilli farming from the other conventional crops and this dropped the price due to the increase in yield.
According to records, the chilli growers had brought 50 lakhs tonnes of chillis for sale and a further 50 lakh tonnes were ready to be sold. Earlier, there were allegations against the chilli traders that they were taking insurance money from farmers and the Chilli Yard Market Committee issued notices to the traders demanding the return of illegally clai-med insurance money. The chilli growers who allegedly threatened to stop purchases as they objected to the newly introduced e-purchase system are to face notices.
The official analysis that the chilli crop had slumped last year in Maharashtra, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh and other areas. So the demand caused the increase in price. The chilli farmers harvested 1,56,068 hectares chillies and it increased to 1,85,981 hectares this year and the extra yield dropped the price. Farmers K. Chandrasekhar, B. Nagesh and others said that prices have been increasing since the past two years and this attracted non-chilli farmers to the cultivation of chillies. They claimed that the red chillies of Guntur are globally famous and have good market potential. They said the government had assured them several times about implementing market price stabilisation fund to maintain a steady price but it never materialised. They asked the government to purchase their chillies directly or through Markfed.