No Indian kitchen can do without chilies but the farmers who toil day in and day out in their fields to put it on your dining table are facing an unprecedented crisis.
In the country's red chilli capital, Guntur, the crisis is acquiring alarming proportions. As many as 20 chilli farmers have ended their lives since February this year and many more are teetering on the edge. This year seems to have been the worst for chilli farmers. Unusually heavy rains during the harvesting season caused them massive losses.
Soon after, a devastating fire destroyed the chilli market yard at Guntur, considered the Asia-Pacific region's biggest. During the peak season, daily transactions are estimated at Rs 40 crore here.
About 2.6 lakh bags of chillies valued at Rs 85 crore kept by farmers for sale were destroyed.
The fire destroyed the entire crops of hundreds of farmers who had survived the rain. A day after the fire, farmer P.V. Raghavaiah, 48, committed suicide. More farmers followed in taking the extreme step.
On Tuesday more than 400 farmers staged a Rasta Roko agitation in Guntur demanding full compensation for their destroyed crops.