‘Increase MSP for Cardamom,’ say Farmers of Kerala-TN Border After Heavy Rain, Crop Disease
Representational Image. Image Courtesy: The New Indian Express
Cardamom farmers have suffered losses due to crop diseases and heavy rains this year, and the low minimum support price (MSP) for the crop has added to their worries.
It has not been a very profitable year for cardamom farmers from Theni district in Tamil Nadu who cultivate crops in the Idukki district of Kerala. These inter-state farmers have incurred losses due to the incessant monsoon rains in June-July and have not recovered.
They complain that even after appealing to the central government to increase the MSP, which can help them meet their losses, there has been no response from the Centre.
The Spices Board of India, under the Ministry of Commerce and Industry, Government of India, is responsible for fixing the MSP.
Lenin, a small planter based in Cumbum, told NewsClick, “If yield is low and the MSP is good, then farmers escape loss. But this year the yield is low, and the MSP is also fixed below expectation, so farmers are staring at an intense loss,” he said.
RAIN AND CROP DISEASE
The cardamom farmers are struggling to balance the cost of cultivation and the sale of yield.
Due to the heavy northeast monsoon in June-July this year and the accompanying water stagnation, rot disease affected the roots of cardamom crops. The spread of this disease right before the harvest season led to a poor yield.
“Adding to that, the cost of production has also shot up. The price of pesticides and fertilisers have almost increased three-fold,” said Lenin.
“Importing cardamom and hoarding the produce by middlemen have added to the distress. We have held many protests against these practices,” he added.
Kannan, the president of Theni Vivasayigal Sangam, said, “There is a procurement centre in Theni. Even when the Kerala government procures spices, they follow the MSP set by the central government.”
“Farmers unions of both states are demanding the Centre to increase the MSP” he added.
The MSP is fixed at Rs 1,500 per kg of cardamom this year.
Tamil Nadu farmers from Cumbam and Bodinayakanur municipalities in the Theni district own land in Idukki district of Kerala and cultivate crops there. Farmers from Gudalur municipality of Nilgiris district in Tamil Nadu also engage in inter-state farming in Idukki.
Lenin said, “These farmers reside in Tamil Nadu, but they do farming in Idukki. They may travel up to 40 to 50 km each day.”
“More than 60% of cardamom farmers in the region are from Tamil Nadu who are engaged in inter-state farming,” he added.
The New Indian Express reported that these farmers have raised concerns that neither Tamil Nadu nor Kerala government is providing subsidies for their losses.
Kannan said, “Agriculture is land oriented; whichever state the land falls in, they will have to take responsibility.”
In the Idukki district, cardamom cultivation is carried out on 1.25 lakh acres of land, and more than 5,000 farmers from Tamil Nadu are involved in it.
On average, these farmers cultivate around 500 kg of cardamom per acre of land.
Get the latest reports & analysis with people's perspective on Protests, movements & deep analytical videos, discussions of the current affairs in your Telegram app. Subscribe to NewsClick's Telegram channel & get Real-Time updates on stories, as they get published on our website.