Low yield has pushed the prices of custard apples in north Andhra Pradesh.
The sweet fruit has turned a little sour for custard apple lovers due to high prices. However, the farmers, who had suffered losses for the past two years due to the Covid-19 pandemic, are getting some sweet returns this year. The yield of the fruit was low compared to the previous years which has pushed the prices.
A basket full of custard apples (150 to 160 fruits) used to be sold at Rs1,500. Now, one basket of fruit costs Rs 2,500 in the weekly markets and on the ghat roads in the region. Vendors are thronging tribal pockets of Alluri Sitarama Raju and Parvathipuram Manyam to sell the fruit.
Tribal farmers in Paderu, Seethampeta, Araku, and Chintapalle cultivate the custard apple on more than 14,000 acres of land. Over 25,000 farmers depend on custard apple cultivation, directly and indirectly,
"We had incurred losses as we sold the fruit at throwaway prices in 2020 and 2021 due to the virus. There is a huge demand for custard apples in the Vizag city and Southern Odisha districts. And this year, we have a little reason to cheer as the yield is low but the prices are encouraging. A few days ago, I sold 160 fruits at Rs 2,700," said P Bhimo, a tribal farmer in Ananthagiri Mandal in the ASR district.
Experts said custard apple is a seasonal and organic fruit and it contains potassium, magnesium, and Vitamin-A which are good for health.
"I never miss the sweet custard apples. Though the fruit is a bit costly, it would come only once a year. I am tempted to eat the delicious fruit," said M Radhika, a resident of Vizag city.
Custard apples are being sold along the ghat-road side in tribal pockets.
Traders from parts of the Vizag region procure the fruit from tribal pockets
August to October are the peak months for custard apples
Local traders sell Rs160 to Rs180 per kg of fruits in cities.
The fruit requires special packing and post-harvesting techniques to ensure they are transportable
Farmers demand cold storage for the fruits
If yield and price are good, the farmer will get Rs1.5 lakh per acre for the fruit