COVID-driven demand pushes up sweet lime prices

One tonne, that fetched ₹4,000 last year, is now commanding ₹70,000 to ₹1.10 lakh

With the word spreading that vitamin C, zinc and proteins are required to build and maintain the immunity, people are scrambling to the markets to buy citrus fruits, which in turn, is driving up the prices.

Sweet lime(Mosambi), for one, has seen a ten-fold rise in its price leaving the growers in Anantapur a happier lot. While during the lockdown last year, a tonne fetched just ₹4,000 forcing many farmers to stop growing the crop, this year the same quantity is commanding ₹70,000 to ₹1.10 lakh depending on the size and quality.

D. Ramudu, a farmer from Mukundapuram in Garladinne mandal who got five tonnes in each of three acres in the first crop(from February-end to June), has got his produce sent to Gwalior in Madhya Pradesh where the demand is high. The demand is rising in Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, Delhi, Madhya Pradesh and other northern and western States where the virus spread is more rampant.

A trader has hired a lorry, paying ₹1 lakh freight charges, and loaded it with fruits partially from Ramudu’s farm and the rest from the Agriculture Marketyard in Anantapur.

Ramudu remembers how he was disappointed to find no takers for the produce last year. He could not sell more than 10 out of 21 tonnes at an average of ₹6,000 per tonne.

Anantapur Assistant Director of Horticulture Gatti Satish Kumar told The Hindu that sweet lime was grown in 53,000 hectares in the district. The sandy red and black soils found here were conducive for the crop to grow as it needs soil where water stagnation is not there.

The demand in Anantapur is high also because the crop failed in Nalgonda, Mahboobnagar, Kadapa and Prakasam districts due to heavy rains in the late monsoon affecting the flowering of the current season, he said.

“Advantage of this crop is that it can be plucked any time within three months once the fruits are ready on the plants,” he added.

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