COIMBATORE: Growers of ‘kanvali kilangu’ (gloriosa superba), a medicinal plant, are fretting over plummeting prices of its seeds.
The extracts from ‘kanvali kilangu’ seeds are widely used in treating joint pain, rheumatism and other diseases. Despite huge demand for its seed with therapeutic properties, the prices have been spiraling down due to intervention of middlemen, say farmers.
Prices of the kilangu seeds have come down drastically from Rs 2,000 per kg last year to Rs 1,150 to Rs 1,200 this season, despite a low yield. It fetched a maximum of up to Rs 4,000 per kg in 2018 and slumped to an all-time low of around Rs 650 per kg in 2015. “Rains during the flowering season caused flowers to shed from the plant and led to a dip in production. When the yield is low, it is normal for prices to go up. But, the middlemen involved in purchase and export of the ‘kilangu’ seeds created an artificial glut in the market and forced farmers to sell at a loss,” said ‘Pazha’ Ragupathy, chief organiser of Tamil Nadu ‘Senganthal’ Farmers Association.
Besides its seeds, the ‘kanvali kilangu’, which was normally sold for Rs 400 per kg now fetches barely Rs 50. The crop introduced in Tamil Nadu in 1985, has been grown in over 10,000 acres, majorly in Tirupur, Dindugul and Karur districts.
“Under favourable soil and climatic conditions, farmers get a maximum yield of 300 to 350 kg per acre. They spend around Rs 7 lakhs per acre to cultivate this five-year crop. Due to poor price realisation, a majority of farmers who have made the harvest this season and in their end cycle of the fifth year have quit cultivation. Only 10 to 15 per cent of farmers are again going for the crop,” he added. “Worried over poor price of seeds, some farmers are stocking them to sell when things get better in the market as it can be preserved for up to three years. However, others, who cultivated the crop by borrowing, are disposing of the ‘kilangu’ seeds even at a loss to settle their dues,” said B Lingasamy of Tamil Nadu Gloriosa Superba Growers Association.
It has been a long time demand of farmers to notify the crop and announce a minimum support price for the crop. Over 5,000 farmers are involved in the cultivation of ‘kanvali kilangu’ across Tamil Nadu.