By Our Staff Correspondent
HASSAN, DEC. 12. The increase in the price of ginger in northern India, especially Allahabad, Delhi, and Mumbai, has motivated the farmers in Hassan district to cultivate the crop.
The farmers in the Malnad region and the dry land areas, including, Holenarsipur, Arkalgud, Channarayapatna, and Hassan taluks, which is irrigated by the Hemavathi reservoir, are also keen on cultivating the ginger crop.
Farmers in the Sakleshpur region, who were earlier growing coffee, have switched over to ginger, according to sources in the Department of Horticulture.
Those who cultivated ginger this year are relieved with the rise in the price of ginger in the market. The demand for ginger has increased owing to the failure of the crop in the northeastern part of the country, the farmers said.
The Deputy Director of Horticulture, Pampapathi, said that the farmers, who were earlier cultivating paddy, had switched to ginger, as it fetched a better price.
The area under ginger cultivation in the district last year was around 1,200 hectares.
This year, the area under ginger cultivation has increased to 2,000 hectares. A few farmers from Kerala had persuaded the farmers in Hassan to cultivate ginger in 1999. "It is the market potential of the crop that has encouraged the farmers of the Malnad region to cultivate ginger as an alternative to paddy," said Shanthamallayya, a farmer from Sakleshpur.
The farmers feel that they have been encouraged to cultivate the crop owing to the market potential of ginger in the last two years.
The farmers, who were getting Rs. 650 for a bag of 60 kg in July, are now getting Rs. 850 for the same quantity, according to the market sources.
Farmers cultivating ginger were relieved when they received good pre-monsoon showers in May. The incessant rainfall, however, dampened their spirits. Heavy rainfall in the Malnad region in June flooded the fields and the crop rotted.
Besides soft rot (Kole roga), the farmers were worried when the stem borer pest affected the crop.
The farmers had to use pesticides extensively to control the pest attack, according to Mr. Pampapathi.
Mr. Pampapathi said that the ginger crop was normally harvested eight months after sowing.
However, the farmers, who were apprehensive over losing the crop, harvested pre-maturely to minimise the losses, which had helped them a great deal. The farmers got Rs. 1,200 to Rs. 1,500 for a bag of 60 kg in August. However, the price then plummeted to Rs. 600 for the same quantity.
The floods in the ginger cultivating areas in the northeastern part of the country had increased the demand and the price of ginger.
Earlier, middlemen used to procure ginger from farmers and transport it to the northern parts of the country where the demand for ginger is high. The middlemen would procure only about 160 bags from the farmers in the district.
The situation had now changed, as the farmers have decided to supply their produce on their own.
The trucks that were earlier transporting potato started transporting ginger.
Farmers were now getting a good price for their produce, according to market sources.
The Department of Horticulture was expecting rise in the area under ginger cultivation. The price of ginger seed had increased proportionately with the rise in the demand.
The rate for a bag of ginger seed, which was Rs. 1,200 in November, had increased to Rs. 1,700, sources said.