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TN banana growers need GI branding for exports


R. Doraikannu, State agriculture minister, along with other senior ministers Mr A. Sengottaiyan, Dindigul C Sreenivasan RB Udhayakumar, Mr. Sellur K. Raju and government officials at the inaugaration of National Banana Festival at Tamil Nadu Agricultural University campus in Madurai on Friday. —DC

Branding of banana with geographical indication (GI) could lead to various plantain varieties of Ta-mil Nadu reaching discerning consumers in the global market, said Dr Shakil P Ahmmed, Joint secretary, department of Agriculture & Cooperation, Ministry of Agricult-ure & Farmers Welfare, Delhi. Speaking to DC on the sidelines of the 'National Festival 2017' organised by Confederation of Indi-an Industry (CII), Tamil Nadu at Tamil Nadu Agricultural University campus here on Friday, he said that traditional varieties of banana such as 'poovan', tarpooraval-W, 'rasthaali' and 'Sirum-alai' banana have earned a unique place among banana lovers. As of now, Tamil Nadu bananas were exported to countries like Saudi Ara-bia and UAE, but to tap markets in Japan and Eu-ropean countries which are opening up now, branding with geographical indication should be done for these traditional varieties, he said. "Like the grape growers who standardised the quality of grapes for export by adopting GrapeNet, (an IT-enabled traceability system for the grape sector in India), banana growers should evolve similar system," he said. Banana cultivators could increase their profits by adding value to their products. For instance, one dozen of banana is being sold for Z30 in the market, but if is processed as banana powder, it could be sold for 2200, he pointed out. Earlier, addressing the gathering Dr Ahammed urged the government agencies, agricultural scie-ntists and professors to work in coordination to assist the farmers with latest technology for im-proving their agricultural production. Gagandeep Singh Bedi, Agricultural Production
commissioner and principal secretary; State Agriculture department, said that, "India is the largest banana producing country in the world contributing 23 per cent of the total production." Banana was cultivated in around three lakh acres in Tamil Nadu and 62 lakh tonnes of plantains are produced every year, he said. Even during the drought situation in the State, the government has been taking various steps to assist the banana growers. "For promoting hill and traditional varieties, we are providing assistance up to Zl crore and for banana tissue cultivation, a subsidy of 235,000 per hectare is given to farmers," said Bedi. The state government also recently announced 2398 crore scheme to establish supply chain management to help boost farmers' incomes, added. Mr. Bedi. P Ravichandran, chair-man, CII, Tamil Nadu said they have organised this festival for the fourth consecutive year with the aim to make India the first place in banana production in the world. "As of now, we are in fifth position," he said. Farmers from 14 states participated in the festival to learn about banana growing techniques here, he said, adding they would also be taken on a field trip. 

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