Kerala: Farmers readying to go back to ginger fields

KALPETTA: Wayanad farmers are once again getting ready to return to the ginger fields in Karnataka this year and try their hand at a game that has already cost the lives of many.

The fertile fields of Karnataka which turned out to be a graveyard of dreams for ginger farmers from Wayanad with many turning to suicide after not being able to recover even a portion of the money they invested in these lands, due to a sharp fall in ginger prices.

Farmers in large numbers from Wayanad have already taken land for lease in various places including Coorg, Shimoga, Mysore and other parts of the state. But they content that the huge amount of investment and the unfavourable conditions prevailing in Wayanad have left them with no option but to look to Karnataka.

“Despite suffering heavy losses this time around, the rise in labour charges and fertiliser rates have made it impossible to do agriculture in Wayanad and is prompting us to go to Karnataka again. We have no option other than to invest further in the ginger cultivation,” said Jose Nadankandathil, a farmer from Valad in the district, who has leased 6 acres of land at Chamalapura in Karnataka.

In the hope that ginger prices will rise this year, farmers have booked plots as early as in September itself by giving token advance for the land to be leased. The lease amount of the land ranges from `45,000 to `60,000 per acre.

But after the free fall in the prices of ginger, these farmers are now caught in a Catch-22 situation over pursuing agriculture in Karnataka. This has led some of the farmers to abandon the leased land along with the token advance, but most of the farmers have decided to go ahead with no other option left to them.

Those who have already been doing ginger cultivation in Karnataka for the past couple of years are now facing difficulty in finding money for investment as they have incurred huge losses in the last season. Though the normal time of harvest season starts from November, several farmers are yet to harvest, hoping for better market prices in the coming days.

“Now the price of ginger is around Rs 420 for a sack of 60 kilograms of ginger. To say the ginger cultivation is profitable, farmers should get at least Rs 1,000 per kilogram. At the present rate, we would not even get back the money we invested and our hope of investing this money for the next year’s cultivation seems bleak and have to find some other sources,” Jose Vellamalayil, a farmer who have leased land in Coorg said.