Agartala: Tripura’s cashew nut farmers are among the worst-hit due to the COVID-19 lockdown. There are very few buyers approaching them to purchase raw cashew nut.
Tripura has around 5,000 registered cashew nut growers, of which over 3,000 are from Rajnagar in South Tripura district, about 100 km away from here.
Speaking with reporters, Bhajan Das, a cashew nut farmer said due to the lockdown, this year nobody has approached them to buy the raw cashew nuts following which the many of the nuts are rotting on the farm field.
“The harvesting season has begun, but since there is no demand for the raw cashew nut, we have not done anything to get the raw cashew nut from the field”, Das said.
He also said that most of the farmers wait for the season when the raw cashew nuts are ready to be harvested, but with no demand, they will have to depend on the government to procure their produce at the minimum support price (MSP).
Subhash Das, another farmer, said that they used to see their cashew at Rs 50 to 60 per kg in the local market, and last year a buyer from Kolkata and offered Rs 120 per kg at wholesale rate.
“Due to the lockdown this year no trader turned up to us neither placed any demand for raw cashew nuts. The local businessmen are offering us lower prices for the cashew nuts. We are helpless and left with no option but to sell the raw cashew nut at a lower cost otherwise our crop will rot”, Subhash said.
The cashew nuts are grown in Micossa, Nidaya and Bhabanipur under Sonamura subdivision and Radhanagar, Nihar Nagar, Ghosh Kamar, Gabtali Chottakhola, Ekinpur under Rajnagar block. In Rajnagar over 1800 hectares of land is covered with cashew nut cultivation.
When contacted with the Rajnagar block development officer (BDO), Swarup Kumar Paul, he said that the cashew farmers are managing their crops themselves without getting any government benefits. They sell the raw cashew nuts in the local market and get low prices.
“The local administration helps them in collecting the raw cashew nuts from the other side of the fencing in coordination with the Border Security Force (BSF)”, Paul said.
He also informed that a proposal for setting up a cashew nut processing unit in the area was made to the authorities by the local administration.
The local MLA from CPIM, Sudhan Das said that during the Left Front government in 2017 the price was around Rs 125 per kg, but in last two years the price has come down to Rs 60 as the government did not take any initiative to promote the produce.
“The price was fixed during the previous government to ensure that the farmers do not face any loss. The incumbent government has not taken any step to save the farmers”, MLA said.
Das says that he has written a letter to the Agriculture and farmers welfare minister, Pranajit Singha Roy seeking his intervention to get (MSP) for the farmers facing the loss.
Reacting to the matter, West Tripura MP Pratima Bhoumik said the issue discussed with state leaders and they have agreed that there’s a need to set up a cashew nut processing unit in the state.
“We are aware of the matter, and the issue was discussed earlier with the state government. Let us see if we can do something at the earliest”, Bhoumik said.