Now it is the turn of mango farmers to dump their produce on the roadside. Mango may be the king of fruits, but its growers are not the kings, at least in the State’s major mango-growing belt of Ramanagaram district as glut in production has resulted in a crash in wholesale prices of the fruit.
Such is the depth to which wholesale prices have plummeted that the elite Alphonso mango variety, being sold at ₹80 a kg in retail markets, is going at a throwaway price of ₹8 a kg in the wholesale market of Ramanagaram.
The wholesale price has crashed to nearly one-tenth of the retail price in the Ramanagaram Agricultural Produce Marketing Committee (APMC) yard, which sees a huge transaction of mangoes. In fact, the wholesale prices of some of the popular varieties, including Totapuri and Raspuri, have touched a low of ₹4 a kg.
The distressed growers are dumping their produce either at the APMC yard or along the Ramanagaram-Jalamangala road as they cannot even recover the transportation costs. Many farmers are leaving the fruits in the trees without bothering to harvest.
This has caused concern as Ramanagaram is among the few major mango-growing districts in south India. There are over 9,000 mango growers in the district and they produce nearly 1.75 lakh tonnes of the fruit from 23,090 hectares.
The price crash has been witnessed over the past week, said Puttaramaiah, president of Ramanagaram APMC. The fruit was being sold at an average price of ₹20 for Raspuri and ₹40 for Badami at the same market a month ago.
At the retail stall, the fruit was being sold for between ₹40 (Raspuri) and ₹80 (Badami) in Ramanagaram on Sunday.
The price crash is being attributed to excess production, the menace of middlemen, and the absence of a facility to preserve the produce.
Referring to the low wholesale price of mangoes, Gunavantha, Deputy Director of Horticulture, Ramanagaram told The Hindu: “The authorities concerned have observed the development and the Price Fixation Committee of the Karnataka Agricultural Prices Commission will convene a meeting in Ramanagaram on Monday or Tuesday to find a solution.”
While Mr. Gunavantha said his department has organised a ‘Mango Mela’ to provide farmers a platform to get good prices on their produce, Mr. Puttaramaiah maintained that the APMC too has been initiating measures to reduce the role of middlemen.
“The cost of production of one kg of mango is around ₹10. The growers cannot even recover their transportation costs as the traders are offering very low prices. The government should initiate measures to ensure that growers get remunerative prices,” said Thumbenahalli Shivakumar, president of the Karnataka Rajya Raitha Sangha, Ramanagaram.
Interestingly, the crash in wholesale prices has not impacted the retail prices. This has given rise to suspicion that middlemen are calling the shots and manipulating the market.