Most farmers in the region have shifted to garlic cultivation as they suffered losses last year
There will only be a sparse supply of vegetables from Kanthallur to the Onam market this time. Onam is considered the main vegetable cropping season at Vattavada and Kanthallur, the two cool season vegetable centres in Idukki.
Farmers at Kanthallur have en masse shifted to garlic cultivation with vegetables such as potato, cabbage, beetroot, beans, and carrot limited to less than 20% of the total area.
Kanthallur agriculture officer Satheesh T. says in the three harvesting seasons beginning with Onam, the area of cultivation is 300 ha in the first, 110 ha in the second, and 180 ha in the third. He says nearly 720 tonnes of garlic is expected this season, with harvesting already under way.
Though garlic is not on the list of vegetables farmed in the village, farmers are cultivating it due to the failure to market vegetables last year following the COVID-19-induced lockdown and related issues.
Desiyan, a farmer at Puthoor in Kanthallur, says he is cultivating garlic on four acres. Last year, he cultivated all vegetables but no proper procurement was done. Of the 3,000 kg of carrot, nearly 1,000 kg went waste as there were no buyers. “Garlic has a shelf life of a year and you will get ready cash when it is sold,” he says.
He says many farmers suffered losses last year as there were no takers for their produce and tonnes of vegetables were left to decay.
Kanthallur garlic is purchased by Ayurveda companies for its high oil content, with prices ranging between ₹100 and ₹150 a kg.
Murugan, another farmer, says they can sell garlic even if prices come down. “We can keep it in godowns for a year. Besides, there is a sure market for garlic in Tamil Nadu,” he adds.
Earlier, traders from Tamil Nadu reached Kanthallur to procure vegetables. However, during the lockdown, they did not come and there was no regular procurement by State agencies such as Horticorp and the Vegetable and Fruit Promotion Council Keralam (VFPCK). Mr. Satheesh says a proper marketing system and timely payment of prices are the main concerns of farmers. Farmers en masse cultivating a particular crop will also have reprisals with a drop in prices.
Sojan P.G., secretary, Kanthallur Cool Season Vegetable Farmers Marketing Society that procures vegetables for Horticorp, says the society does not procure vegetables as nearly ₹12 lakh was pending from Horticorp. The VFPCK has to pay for vegetables procured for a year-and-a-half.
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