KATIHAR: Farmers involved in makhana cultivation in the district are hopeful of financial recovery with prices of the produce stabilising to some extent and markets opening up.
A huge slump was prevailing in the market due to Covid pandemic and farmers were forced to sell their produce (raw nuts with black kernel intact) at throwaway prices.
Nine months of agonising spell of corona pandemic turned out to be a dampener for makhana growers in the district. The price of raw makhana (with black kernel intact) was Rs 12,000 per quintal in August-September 2020 as compared to Rs 20,000 per quintal in 2019, Rs 16,000 per quintal in 2018 and Rs 14,000 per quintal in 2017.
Mandan Kumar, a makhana grower under ward 9 of Phulwaria panchayat of the district, said, “We sold makhana with black kernel intact in August-September 2020 at very low prices as corona cases were spreading in the country exponentially. Market was down and we didn’t get the right price.”
Another farmer, Ajay Kumar, of the same panchayat said, “Makhana from Katihar is sent to mandis in Kanpur and Delhi and thereafter exported to other Middle-East and Gulf countries via Pakistan. However, relations between India and Pakistan were going through rough patches during those days and borders had been sealed due to corona pandemic. This could be the reason for drop in makhana prices,” he said.
Former head of Krishi Vigyan Kendra (Katihar) Ramanand Singh said makhana of this region is not only exported to Pakistan and Gulf countries, but also to Bangladesh. “Farmers suffered a lot due to slump in the markets. Export routes were closed due to the pandemic. They didn’t get access to the market and were forced to sell their raw produce at throwaway prices,” he said.
The district, which comes under the Kosi region, is one of the prominent producers of makhana in the state. According to an official figure, Katihar produces 3,000 metric tonne (MT) of makhana annually. Katihar town and Karhagola are two important mandis in the district from where bulk purchases are made. As per an official figure, around 25,000 metric tonne (MT) of makhana is produced annually in Bihar with a turnover of around Rs 300 crore.
“This protein, calcium, magnesium and potassium-rich nut is highly nutritious. It helps in controlling blood sugar and cholesterol,” Singh said.

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