Lemon Market in Gudur

Gudur lemon market in Nellore district, which went through tough times in the last five years, has regained the top slot in Andhra Pradesh.

Farmers unload lemon bags (80 kg) at the two private markets here throughout the year. From here, lemon bags are exported to almost all the major cities and towns in the country every day.

The peak season began on January 20 this year and 7,500-10,000 bags of lemon were auctioned every day. Arrivals have now slowed down to 1,500-2,000 bags per day. From January till now, farmers sold crop worth over Rs 200 crore.

The government collected Rs 14.5 lakh cess from lemon exporters at Rs 3.50 per bag from April 1 last year till May 31 this year, K Raja Rao, special grade secretary, government market yard, said. The cess puts the number of bags at 4,14,285. Farmers earn Rs 2,000-2,500 per bag during peak season and Rs 1,500 during off season.

They grow lemon in about 32,000 acres in 16 upland mandals in the district, including Gudur, Atmakur, Podalakur, Rapur, Ozili, Manubolu, Venkatagiri, and Balayapalli. About 200 buyers take part in auctions, which are held at shops of about 50 commission agents. Interestingly, these agents are employed by merchants, residing in Delhi and other states. Delhi traders are the biggest buyers as 20 of the 60 lorry loads, each with 350 bags, go there.

Farmers reap three crops a year – first one in August-Sept, second in January and the third in March-April. Their counterparts in Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Madhya Pradesh and other states gather one or two crops only, the reason why Gudur became a national market, he said.

R Bala Raju, general secretary, Venkateswara Lemon Traders’ Association, told Business Standard that five years ago about 100 lemon laden trucks plied to every state in the country. The number of commission shops had also come down from 200 then to 50 now.

He said the 1994 cyclone did great damage to lemon gardens in the district. A large number of lemon trees were destroyed. The 2001 floods too destroyed lemon gardens, and the four-year drought, which later followed, dried up the gardens.

Besides, drip irrigation failed too. However, sufficient rains during the last two years brought things on track and the farmers were now again reaping profits.

He urged the government to construct cold storages in lemon growing areas of the district.


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