Chilli farmers in Guntur district are in distress as prices have crashed due to fall in exports this season and a series of fire accidents in the cold storage units earlier in 2011 also resulted in losses.
The farmers have not yet received any compensation.
Guntur district boasts of the biggest chilli market yard in the State and the country.
The average prices of the premium quality chilli fell to as low as Rs 5,000-5,500 a quintal and of the common variety to Rs 3,000 a quintal last month and, though there has been a slight improvement since then, the prices are far from satisfactory.
During the last season, the premium variety fetched Rs 11,000 a quintal.
The two factors cited for the price crash are the bumper crop in Madhya Pradesh and fall in exports. It is said that the Madhya Pradesh Government has focussed on raising the chilli crop and the crop quality is good.
Earlier in 2011, three cold storage units caught fire and there was massive destruction of the crop. The loss was roughly estimated at Rs 70 crore. Farmers have since then been making attempts to get compensation, but in vain. More than 2,000 farmers were affected by the fire mishaps.
It is said that procedural problems in third party surveys commissioned by the insurance companies are the reason for the inordinate delay.
There is, however, some consolation for the chilli farmers in the district, as Mr K. Lakshminarayana, the minister from the district, has been given the agriculture portfolio in the State Cabinet reshuffle on Monday.
They are hoping the minister will secure the compensation for them and take steps to stabilise chilli prices.
They have sought market intervention measures.