The demonetisation of 1,000 and 500-rupee banknotes has badly hit vegetable growers across Jharkhand with farmers finding it hard to get buyers, forcing them to sell their produces at lower than the production cost.
The cash-crunched farmers are worried as they are reluctant to sow Rabi crops and vegetables this winter.
Though the government on Thursday eased guidelines for farmers by allowing them to withdraw up to Rs 50,000 cash from banks ever week, vegetable growers said the overall vegetable production in the state is likely to dip by more than 25% this month due to shortage of banknotes.
“Prices of vegetables have gone down by 25-30% due to the cash-crunch and we are compelled to sell radish at Rs 2 a kg and tomato at Rs 5 a kg, which is not enough to meet even our production cost,” said Nakul Mahto, a vegetable grower from Ranchi’s vegetable hub in Pithoria.
Nakul has an acre of land where he grows seasonal vegetables round the year and export a major chunk of the produce to neinghouring West Bengal.
“For past week, I have not been able to sow seeds for the new crops due to lack of money,” he said.
“To purchase 10 gm of cauliflower seeds, I require 500 to 600 rupees and 10 gm of tomato seeds cost Rs 400 to Rs 500. No seed sellers are ready to give seeds on credit.”
If the situation did not improve, there will 20-25% shortage of vegetables in the market in December, he said
Jharkhand is a surplus vegetable production state. The Jharkhand state horticulture mission figures show that the state produces more than 37 lakh metric tonne of vegetables every year but only 30 lakh metric tonne is locally consumed.
The state exports more than one million tonne of vegetables to other states every year.
Even though farmers are selling their produces at a lower price to whole sellers, price of the perishable commodity in city retail markets is high. The arrival of vegetables from outside the state has partially stabilized prices.
“The cash-crunch has also hit harvesting of paddy and sowing of Rabi crops, as farmers have to queue outside banks to withdraw money. “I did not start harvesting paddy due to the cash shortage. Who will purchase my produce?,” said Jeetu Manjhi, a farmer of Ranchi’s Angarha.
“We are also struggling to purchase seeds and fertilizers for Rabi crops.”
Director of state agriculture department Jatashankar Choudhary, said that they are aware of the condition of farmers and discussions are on to ease farmers’ trouble. “The district agriculture officials have also been directed to talk to farmers and find solution of their problems,” he said.