Farmers in Kerala are unable to obtain a fair base price and are seeking government assistance.

Thiruvananthapuram: The state government’s assurances and promises have proven to be ineffective. Farmers in Kerala continue to struggle as marketplaces are dominated by low prices and a lack of demand. Due to a lack of demand, farmers are forced to sell their agricultural products at lower prices in order to avoid incurring significant losses. In addition to the Covid-19 problems, this is a source of anxiety for the farmers, who are pleading with the government for rapid assistance.

With the government’s’subhikshakeralam’ programme conducted during the previous lockdown period, farm produce production has increased dramatically. This resulted in market oversupply, and the administration failed to set up procurement organisations to assist farmers.

Farmers of tapioca and plantains were the hardest hit, since they couldn’t even obtain half the base price. Farmers sold tapioca for less than Rs 10, barely enough to cover production costs. When the base price of pineapple was Rs 15, it was reduced to Rs 12. Plantain farmers in Wayanad, on the other hand, receive Rs 30 for banana crops (nenthran kaya), compared to a base price of Rs 24.

The Agriculture Department announced the base price for 16 vegetable species in October. A total of Rs 30 crore has been made allocated for its implementation. A committee was also constituted, with the district collector as its chairperson, to set the base price and to acquire and sell produce directly from farmers through Horticorp and other cooperative companies.

The committee also agreed to use these entities to purchase products at the basic price when the market price drops. However, it has so far been unsuccessful in locating procurement agencies in a number of areas. Many agencies’ bids were denied by the committee because of a lack of distribution networks and sufficient procuring facilities.

Former minister Thomas Isaac’s notes about current Minister of Devaswom K Radhakrishnan’s farming troubles have gone viral. “Radhakrishnan was part of a group that received a loan from a cooperative bank for tapioca farming. Unfortunately, the first Covid-19 lockout occurred during harvest, forcing them to sell their produce at a lesser price. They were likewise unsuccessful in their attempts to sell it after it had dried. This was something I couldn’t quite grasp “Isaac remarked.

If a senior minister is having this much difficulty, one can only imagine how serious the situation is for ordinary farmers. It necessitates more government attention and action, and the concerned minister must commit more time to resolving farmers’ problems.

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