Kadlekai Parishe must be true ‘Raithara Habba’, says KRRS

State farmers should be informed in time to prepare for the Parishe: Raitha Sangha.

Bengaluru: The Kadlekai Parishe, the celebrated annual groundnut fair in the city, has turned into a symbolic cultural event as it has not only become vendor-centric, but also has very little presence of groundnuts grown in Karnataka as vendors predominantly source nuts from Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh.

But Mr Chandrashekhar, president of Karnataka Rajya Raitha Sangha, wants to change all that by coordinating with the Parishe organisers and informing the state farmers well in advance to allow them to take part in the Parishe.

The streets leading to Bull Temple (Dodda Basavana Gudi) and the adjacent Dodda Ganapathi Temple (Dodda Basavana Gudi) are filled with a large number of vendors, who sell the produce for over a week before the last Monday of Karthika Masa (month).

These vendors only moonlight as Parishe groundnut sellers as they are in fact scrap collectors, vegetable and fruit vendors and workers at paper recycling units for most part of the year. But during the Parishe, they don the role of groundnut vendors and source the produce from K.R. Market, Dharmapuri and Salem in Tamil Nadu and Chittoor in Andhra Pradesh. The Kadlekai Parishe, which started off as a farmers’ festival, has little or no presence of farmers anymore.

“For the past seven years, I have been coming here along with my parents to sell groundnuts bought from my aunt in Salem. She has a big plot where she cultivates groundnuts. My parents visit her week before the Parishe and get around 4-5 sacks of groundnuts. Since we buy it from her, we don’t pay her in advance,” said Satya, a class 10 student, who skipped school for the fair.

Shanth Kumar, a resident of Basavanagudi – who runs a groundnut stall, said, “I grow groundnuts in my village in Channapatna. Since I stay in Basavanagudi and have been witnessing the fair all my life, I wanted to grow groundnuts for the Parishe. Since I have a house nearby and have caretakers for my land and cultivation, I felt I could be part of the Parishe.”

But crowding of vendors has led to slowing down of the overall business, he said. “That is why farmers from Tumakuru, Chitradurga and other places sell their produce at RMC yard at wholesale prices instead of waiting for the Parishe as they find it easier than waiting for customers at the Parishe,” he said.

“Even if they come, they bring one or two sacks on main festival days and leave immediately. They cannot afford to spend days at the fair waiting to sell their produce,” he said.

Mr Chandrashekhar of the Raitha Sangha said, “Scanty and irregular rainfall over the last few years has led to fewer groundnut growers in Karnataka. Tumakuru and Challakere have big markets, but very few growers.”

He said, “This is because the import of edible oils has increased. Groundnut is a big source of nutrients and is preferred over other types of oils. But because of the government’s preference to imported oil, our growers have suffered.”

He said, “We can still bring farmers back to the fair. We would like to collaborate with the organisers of the Parishe. The dates of the fair can be conveyed well in advance to groundnut farmers in the state who can then participate. We can restore the glory of ‘Raithara Habba’ or ‘farmers’ festival,” he said.

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