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UP Elections: World’s Largest Producer of Amla, Pratapgarh May Lose Distinction

Tarique Anwar |
At least half of the farmers who were engaged in amla production have given up their cultivation; and as result, the area under cultivation has shrunk.
World’s Largest Producer of Amla

Pratapgarh (Uttar Pradesh): Amla (Indian gooseberry) growers in Pratapgarh are facing a tough time as the cultivation of the vitamin C-rich fruit is no more profitable. “unfair” prices, dependence on arhtiyas (commission agents), absence of processing units, rising input costs, black marketing of fertilisers such as DAP and Potash and a sharp decline in the demand during COVID-19 lockdowns have broken their backbones.

Farmers here say that if factors cited above are not addressed in time, the district, which boasts of being the world’s largest producer of the fruit, may lose the distinction in the time to come. To cement their claim, they present a few facts: at least half of the farmers who were engaged in amla production have given up their cultivation; and as result, the area under cultivation has shrunk.

The chief minister’s One District, One Product (ODOP) scheme — which was aimed at benefiting the amla growers by enabling them to get a fair price and market for their produce — is proving of no help.

“The number of farmers growing amla has gone down around 6,000 from 10,200 over the past six-seven years. As a result, the area under cultivation has declined to less than 6,000 hectares from around 11,000 hectares,” Amla Growers’ Association chief Atendra Singh, who also grows the fruit, told NewsClick.

Amla is a Rabi crop (November-February). Post spring, its plants bear flowers — which turn into fruits from June 15 to July till August. The harvesting of the mature fruit, which changes its colour from light green to dull greenish-yellow, begins from September 15 and continues till January 15.

Pratapgarh produces 10 varieties of fruit, which include Chakaiya, Francis, Kanchan, Agra Gold, Lakshmi-52, Balwant, N-10, N-7 and Biju. While Kanchan and A-10 are used to make laddus, Lakshmi-52 is used in making murabba (a sweet fruit preserve). Balwant is used in chyawanprash (an Ayurvedic health supplement). Chakaiya and Agra Gold are the most sought after varieties of amla. 

The fruit is sold to traders with the help of commission agents at a price ranging between Rs 750 - Rs 1,100 per quintal, depending on the quality of the yield and the size of production.

“Its rate keep carrying as per the quality and demand and supply. Generally, the price varies between Rs 750 - Rs 1,100 per quintal every year, depending on the quality and the fruit’s supply in the market,” Bharat Verma, who grows the fruit on five bighas (3.09 acres) of land.

Last year, the price of rotten amla had risen to Rs 1,800-1,900 per quintal. The best quality was sold at Rs 2,900 per quintal. It was the highest ever price since the cultivation of the fruit began in the district over 15 years ago. 

“The rise in the price was not because of the ODOP, but due to lower production of the fruit in Rajasthan as a result of a hailstorm. We don’t get any government’s assistance under the scheme,” he said. 

He said one acre of land consists of 60 amla plants, which consume fertilisers worth Rs 5,000-6,000 and pesticides worth at least Rs 30,000. This rate also goes up according to quality and demand and supply. If the production is bumper, the rate goes down and vice versa. 

The farmers will get better of their yield only if the government fixes a minimum price of the fruit, he said. 

“At present, we take the yield to aarat in our nearest mandi (wholesale market) where aartis fix the rate and sell the product to traders. An aarti is the final authority to choose a desirable purchaser. He deducts his commission (Rs 36 per quintal) and gives us the rest amount. Had there been a fixed minimum price, it would have broken the monopoly of the aartis, and we would have sold the product directly to the traders,” he explained.


Atendra Singh said the gooseberry products worth around Rs 1 crore got destroyed due to the announcement of lockdown in April 2020 that resulted in the closure of shops. 

Farmers too bore the brunt because the demand witnessed a decline because of the restriction on transportation. Traders from across the country stopped coming, forcing farmers to sell the yield locally where the demand was comparatively much lower.

The traders kept waiting for the opening of markets, but the government kept extending the lockdown. It resulted in no demand for almost a month. 

With the closure of shops, there was no demand in the domestic market as well. Farmers had to keep the produce at home. It was finally destroyed, leading the growers to suffer a huge loss.

Deputy Commissioner Industries Dinesh Kumar Chaurasia too admitted that amla farmers, as well as traders, suffered a lot due to the spread of the Coronavirus. 


Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath had promised to set up an amla processing unit in the district, but the project was never rolled out. 

“Nothing meaningful was done for amla growers in the past five years. No change came in our life under this government,” alleged Tej Bahadur Singh, a farmer from Sonawa village of the district.

Despite no good return, he said, farmers are engaged in the cultivation of the fruit just because it is not labour extensive and demands involvement round the clock.

“Amla is comparatively easy to grow; therefore, farmers here are growing it even on least return. Its orchard is also used to grow other crops such as wheat, etc. It enables farmers to boost their earnings,” he added.


The politics of Pratapgarh is different. At a time when an independent candidate rarely registers victory, the district has elected two independent candidates. 

Going to polls on February 27, the district's seven  constituencies were represented in the outgoing Assembly by two MLAs each from BJP, Apna Dal (Sonelal) and Jansatta Dal (Loktantrik), and one from Congress. The JD(L) is a local outfit headed by strongman Raghuraj Pratap Singh aka Raja Bhaiya.

The BJP had secured two seats of the district in the last Assembly elections. They are facing huge anti-incumbency because of their inaction.

The infighting within the organisation will trouble the SP in this election. The BSP has no MLA from here. Most of the candidates are new. 

Congress has tried to win over women by giving them three seats.


Pratapgarh has a sizeable Muslim population, which is rallying behind the SP without a second thought. Brahmins and Thakurs are also an important part of the electorate here. Kurmis, an OBC community, are also quite influential. Apna Dal is popular among the community.

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