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Punjab Farmers Forced to Dump Capsicum as Prices Plummet to Rs 1 Per kg

Farmers in Punjab's Mansa region threw capsicum on the highways on Wednesday after being offered Re 1 per kg for their harvest, according to reports.

KJ Staff
Punjab Farmers Forced to Dump Capsicum as Prices Plummet to 1 Per kg
Punjab Farmers Forced to Dump Capsicum as Prices Plummet to 1 Per kg

"Following Punjab Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann's appeal, many new farmers grew capsicum on a portion of their land. However, we are shocked at the rates being offered to us," said Gora Singh Bhainibagha, a farmer who grows capsicum on 5 acres of land in Mansa's Bhainibagha village, alluding to Mann's appeal to farmers to diversify their crops.

"Rates have crashed this time of year, right at the start of the season. We pack one polybag weighing around 15-17 kg, which dealers select from us. This time, we're just getting Rs 15 for a bag. "The price for a 17 kg bag is less than a rupee for 1 kg of capsicum," said Bhainibagha of the Punjab Kisan Union.

Vegetables are grown on more than 3 lakh hectares of land in Punjab. Capsicum is primarily planted on an area of roughly 1,500 hectares in the Mansa, Ferozepur, and Sangrur districts - 500 hectares in Sangrur, 250 hectares in Mansa, around 100 hectares in Ferozepur, and the rest in various districts, according to the horticulture department.

Punjab is experiencing a capsicum abundance this year. According to the horticultural department, the prolonged cold weather increased pepper production in all states this year. Previously, the crop from Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh arrived in January-February, followed by Punjab's yield around the end of March or beginning of April. "This time, the variety from all states has come together...as a result, Punjab farmers are facing a capsicum glut. Climate change appears to be the cause of this glut, as the crop from Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh used to arrive earlier in the past," said Punjab Horticulture Director Shailender Kaur.

Farmers had a similar dilemma during the first Covid-19 shutdown in 2020, according to Bhainibagha. "Marriage functions were limited, social gatherings were reduced, and hotels and restaurants were closed for much of the year." Even so, we received reasonable rates of Rs 10-15 per kilogramme for our early produce in April. Rates had dropped to Rs 3 per kg by May," he added. The crop did well in the following years, 2021 and 2022, with farmers earning up to Rs 20 per kilogramme for a few types.

According to Jaspal Singh, a farmer who grows capsicum on 8 acres of land, Mansa is one of the state's key marketplaces for capsicum. "Traders from West Bengal or Kashmir come to our farms directly to pick the produce." Some produce is sold in Delhi's Azadpur Mandi and in the local market. However, because the outside consumer is absent, we are confronting a glut this time," he continued.

Authorities stated that they have been instructing farmers to hold their produce in cold storage and sell it when the prices are right. Sukhdev Singh of Mansa's Kotli Kalan village, on the other hand, is regretting his decision to produce capsicum on 3 acres of his land. Despite the fact that the Punjab government has established a chilli cluster in Ferozepur district, there is no plan in place to assist farmers. "This is why farmers don't want to break the wheat-paddy cycle," Bhainibagha remarked.

Farmers who spend over Rs 1 lakh per acre on capsicum are now seeking assistance from the Punjab government so that they can sell their produce in Kolkata. However, the government has yet to make a statement on the topic. Meanwhile, capsicum is offered in the retail market for Rs 20-30 per kg. Rates in the retail sector reached 70-80 per kg in the first week of April.

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