Organic ginger prices crash leaving farmers in Koraput in distress

Koraput in Odisha is known for its high quality of ginger that is grown organically in over 2,599 hectares of land in the district. But, the farmers have little to cheer as the price of the rhizome has crashed to an all time low because of non-organic ginger from Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka, flooding the market.

Ashis SenapatiAshis Senapati   2 April 2022 11:16 AM GMT

Organic ginger prices crash leaving farmers in Koraput in distress

All photos by: Ashis Senapati

Koraput, Odisha

A bumper crop of ginger has left farmers in Odisha wringing their hands in despair rather than jubilant. The reason is falling demand and crashing prices of the rhizome. And farmers from Koraput district, who grow organic ginger are the worst affected.

According to the Odisha Rural Development And Marketing Society (ORMAS), nearly 30,000 farmers (including their family members) in Koraput, most of them from tribal communities, cultivate organic ginger in over 2,599 hectares of land.

"We harvest about twenty quintals of ginger from a hectare of land. Last year, the ginger sold for up to eighty rupees a kilogram. This year the price has crashed to twenty rupees a kilo," Ranjan Pradhan, a farmer of Laxmipur, in Koraput district, told Gaon Connection.

Also Read: Crop yield, net returns and soil health – organic farming leads on all counts, finds CSE study

According to Sarbeswar Bagudai, Koraput's deputy director of horticulture, ginger is grown in the hilly areas in the district where the tropical weather suits this crop. Koraput produces the highest quality of organically grown ginger that is in demand even from other countries.

"Around 30,000 farmers harvested about Rs 50,000 quintals of ginger this harvesting season. The price of ginger crashed due to the availability of cheap ginger from Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka," he explained to Gaon Connection.

"We have been demanding a minimum support price for ginger. But the government has been deaf to the pleas of the ginger farmers," Umesh Chandra Singh, vice-president of All Odisha Krushak Sabha, told Gaon Connection. Lack of proper processing and marketing facilities also resulted in the distress sale, he said.

According to him, export companies that bought huge quantities of organic ginger from these farmers to send to European Union countries, did not do so this year, and that has been an added blow. "They too have shifted to buying the regular ginger from Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh," Umesh Chandra Singh said.

Also Read: Madhya Pradesh farmers say organic farming is profitable, and at the same time saves on medical bills

'Organic ginger has no takers'

There is dismay in the voice of Bhaskar Gomang, another ginger farmer from Laxmipur. "The fall in ginger prices has broken our backbone, and we are in deep trouble," he lamented.

According to Gomang, the problem lay in the fact that few consumers knew of the value of organically grown ginger.

"We use only cattle manure and biofertiliser to grow organic ginger that is good for health. But local markets are flooded with ginger that is not organic, from other states such as Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka and they are obviously cheaper," he pointed out.

Gomang was worried that, as things stood now, he or the other organic ginger farmers would not be able to recover the cost of growing their produce even if they managed to sell all that they grew.

Also Read: A village in Bihar goes organic, transforming the lives of its women

Government intervention needed

Ginger has a very long history of use in various forms in traditional and alternative medicine. It's been used to aid digestion, reduce nausea, and help fight the flu and common cold. The unique fragrance and flavour of ginger come from its natural oils.

Many ginger farmers feel that unless the state government intervened, their woes would continue unabated. "The price of ginger had never sunk so low in the past decade. And, unless the state-government managed Odisha State Agricultural Marketing Board, and Odisha Rural Development And Marketing Society came forward to buy the ginger from us for a good price, we will continue to suffer losses," Pramod Padal a farmer of Patangi in Koraput, told Gaon Connection.

Non- availability of cold storage facilities and ginger processing plants in the district added to the problem, Padal said.

"I have sustained a loss of nearly forty thousand rupees this year and have to repay a bank loan of fifty thousand rupees. The drop in price of ginger has reduced me to a pauper," Tuna Dakua of Patangi said in despair to Gaon Connection. Dakua had cultivated organic ginger in over two acres of land this year.

However, Roshan Kumar Kartik, deputy chief executive of ORMAS, rang a note of optimism. He said ginger washing and drying machines would soon be purchased to help ginger farmers in the state so that they could do good business in the big markets of Visakhapatnam, Chennai, Kolkata and Delhi. "This will check the distress sale of gingers," Kartik told Gaon Connection.

Meanwhile, Sarbeswar Bagudai, deputy director of horticulture said: "We provide subsidies to the farmers if they grow ginger in over a hectare of land."

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