Red chilli production rebounds as farmers learn to tackle black thrips

Red pepper production rebounded in India during 2022-23, and the yield is expected to rise by up to a third as farmers brought under control the invasive black thrips pest that has wreaked havoc in the major producing states of Andhra Pradesh, Telangana and Karnataka. As a result, cold stores can be seen to the brim in these states, according to merchants.

“The yield is very good this year, about 35 percent more than last year,” said Sambasiva Rao, President of All India Chilli Exporters Association in Guntur. Rao estimates the crop volume in Andhra and Telangana to be around Rs 2.7 crore of 40 kg each compared to 2 crore bags last year. This year, the incidence of black thrips was lower. Last year there was a problem. Now the farmers know how to handle it and the harvest is good this year,” Rao said.

From late last week, Guntur’s market square, the largest market, has been closed for a month in summer.

higher production

Meanwhile, prices have fallen by about 20 percent from peak levels in March, said Ravipatti Periya of Vijayakrishna Spices in Hyderabad. He said that prices that had moved to a range of $260 to $280 per kilogram during March, depending on quality, have now fallen to levels of 180 to 240 rubles.

Peraiah estimates the total red pepper harvest in all producing states to be about 10-15 percent higher this year. “The crop of chilies, which was affected by black thrips and excessive rains last year, was seen better this year, as farmers resorted to spraying a lot of pesticides and delaying planting by about a month,” he said.

In Karnataka, production of the Byadgi chilli crop, which is known for its low sharpness and high color content, has rebounded. “The number of market arrivals has increased by around 700 percent this year due to higher crops, and the season is expected to extend till the end of May due to later arrivals compared to the usual mid-March,” said Basavaraj Hampali of Hampali Traders in Hubballi. Farm purchases by masala makers and trades have also been doing well this year.

Higher yields filled cold stores in these states. Hambali said Karnataka, which has a cold storage capacity of around 60 sacks, has already shown an occupancy rate of 75 per cent. This is in contrast to the situation we experienced last year, when the entire market relied on stocks carried over from the previous year.

Rao estimates that cold storages will be about 75 percent full in Telangana and around 70-75 percent in Andhra. He added that farmers are still keeping the stock in the drying yards.

Moreover, Rao said that price flare-ups in the early part of the season led to masala makers covering their positions. As a result, they are slowly going procurement of a variety of peppers such as 341, DD, Syngenta, and others.