Price crash: Dip in temperature squeezes lemon growers 

Nellore: Drop in the mercury in the current winter season leaves lemon growers in a bitter taste. Interestingly, there is an active linkage between the weather conditions and the prospects of lemon growers. The lemon consumption in low-temperature conditions will take a nosedive, leading to a sharp decline in the demand for the fruit. The experience of lemon farmers in Nellore district vindicated this harsh reality. The euphoria over pumper crop proved to be short-lived for growers as price crash upset their apple-cart as a sequel to the falling demand. In spite of monsoon failure and deficit rainfall, the farmers reaped a good crop in Nellore district this year. But it failed to cheer them anyway. As a result, the lemon market at Gudur loses its glow for want of adequate stocks as the growers prefer to defer their harvest plans, hoping for the best. The supplies are failing to trickle into the market because of the fact that the returns will not help the growers even to recover the transport costs.  Close ad X Farmers are raising lemon in around 17,000 hectares in Nellore. Gudur lemon market receives supplies from Gudur, Venkatagiri, Podalakur, Rapur, Dakkili mandal and other areas. The crop area has also substantially increased in from other parts of Andhra Pradesh and Telangana districts due to various reasons, of late. Lemon gardens are being extensively grown in Tenali in Guntur, Rajahmundry in East Godavari, Nakirekal in Nalgonda; and many places and the yield has also been good this year from these areas. “80 kg of lemon bag that was sold at Rs 2,000 in normal course, has plummeted to Rs 400, leaving the farmers disheartened. We have no other go but to shift the produce to pickle making units and other beverages at low cost. Now, a kg of produce is priced at Rs 4-5 as against the normal price of Rs 25,” said trader Koduru Meera Reddy from Gudur. “We don’t recover even the expenses we incur on transporting the produce to the market under such market condtions”, he lamented. “Prices were so good some time ago at Rs 2,000 per bag. Many farmers felt that the trend continues. New area also increased in both Telugu states. But the prices slashed with a spurt in production in view of increase in the crop area in AP and Telangana states,” said D Umadevi, Assistant Director of Horticulture department. In fact, crop has not been supportive for last 4-5 years in the district. This season it has been excellent, according to farmers. Lemons are normally sent to the markets located in Lucknow, Kanpur, Delhi, Agra, Mathura, Bangalore and parts of Kerala.“We have lemon plantations in around 10 acres in Rapur mandal and this time the crop is very good. We have to transport the fruits to Gudur and the transport cost is Rs 15,000 to 25,000. We are not assured to get even the transport due to poor prices ranging between Rs 350-400 per 80-kg bag. It is only Rs 4-5 a kg. So, we are selling locally rather than shifting to Gudur market,” said Anumolu Venkanna from Vepinapi area. Normally, plantations grown in one hectare produce around 15-16 tons of fruits. Farmers also say that though there has been huge yield from local areas there were no efforts to develop byproducts such as preparation of citric acid powder.