May 27, 2021 10:29:25 pm
Even as the summer is at its peak, lemon prices in the state have crashed to around Rs 7 per kg as farmers are carting the fruits that had either fallen in the winds brought by cyclone Tauktae or are harvesting them from damaged orchards.
After mango, lemon is a major horticulture crop damaged by the cyclone at peak marketing season.
Arrival of lemons in agricultural produce market committee (APMC) in Bhavnagar, the biggest wholesale market of lemons in the state, more than doubled to around 180 metric tonnes in days following May 17 when the cyclone made landfall on Saurashtra coast. They trebled in Palitana APMC in Bhavnagar district, another major lemon market, from average 60 tonnes to 200 tonnes between May 19 and May 26.
“The glut was triggered by largescale damage caused by Tauktae to lemon orchards. The squally winds whipped around 70 per cent of fruits to ground while also uprooting lemon trees. Quality of these unripe lemons was not good and it was further damaged by rains. Therefore, the price dropped to around Rs 7 per kg,” Dolubhai Royla, secretary of Bhavnagar APMC, said.
Similar trend prevailed in Palitana. “Every day, eight to 10 tractor trolley-loads of lemons brought by farmers to the APMC yard had to be trashed as they would start rotting while awaiting auction,” Prakash Pandya, secretary of Palitana APMC, said.
Bhavnagar is the largest lemon producing district of Gujarat. “The lemons damaged by the cyclone were not of good quality… They had to be supplied to processing units making pickles. But the pickle makers offered only Rs 2 to Rs 3 per kg price,” Roshanlal Sahitya, a lemon trader on Bhavnagar APMC yard, said.
Incidentally, prices of mangoes in Talala APMC in Gir Somnath district crashed to around Rs 30 per box (of 10 kg) after cyclone as Tauktae damaged orchards in Junagadh, Gir Somnath and Amreli districts. The APMC was flooded with mangoes in days following Tauktae’s landfall as farmers carted damaged fruits to market in an attempt to salvage whatever they could in the peak marketing season of mangoes.
Before the cyclone hit southern Saurashtra coast, lemon prices in APMCs ruled around Rs 30 per kg. Narubhai Khamal, chairman of Bhavnagar APMC, said, “Things looked good for farmers this season as they were realising up to Rs 90 per kg, thanks to demand scooped by Covid-19 pandemic. But the strong winds caused 70 per cent of fruits fall. The tender lemons that survived on damaged trees had little chance of maturing,” the chairman said.
Khamal said that half of around 300 lemon trees in his seven-bigha orchard in Kardej village of Bhavnagar taluka in Bhavnagar district were destroyed. “The cyclone came at worst of times. I had hardly harvested around 30 per cent of my summer crop. I am thinking of salvaging some ofo the trees…,” he said.
“Good quality lemons were sold at Rs 25 to Rs 28 per kg on Thursday. This is mainly due to a dip in arrivals and improved quality of fruits,” Pandya said.
According to the office of Director of Horticulture of Gujarat, Bhavnagar district has 24,503 hectare under fruit crops with an estimated production of 3.47 lakh metric tonnes in year 2019-20. The state government on Wednesday announced Rs 500 crore relief package for farmers whose agriculture or horticulture crops have been damaged by the cyclone in Saurashtra.
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