Header Ads

Lacklustre response to this market complex too

Banana auction under way at the Integrated Banana Market Complex at Thiruchendurai in Tiruchi.R.M. RAJARATHINAM

The Integrated Market Complex for Banana established at Thiruchendurai near Jeeyapuram in the district about four years ago at the initiative of former Chief Minister Jayalalithaa still remains largely under utilised by banana growers of the region.

Despite being located on the State’s major banana growing belt off the Tiruchi-Karur national highway, banana trade at the complex has at best been modest even during the peak harvest season. A 1,000-tonne capacity cold storage at the complex is also poorly utilised.

The complex, opened in 2014, was established at a cost of about Rs. 4 crore. The facility was expected to help farmers improve post-harvest handling of the fruit grown in the region.

But the response from banana growers to the weekly auctions conducted under the auspices of the Tiruchi Market Committee at the complex has been rather lukewarm. Farmers selling their produce here need not pay any commission for the transaction, but many still prefer to shell out up to 13% commission charges to intermediaries to sell their produce at Gandhi Market in Tiruchi or other places.

The average arrivals at the weekly auctions, held on Tuesdays, has just been about 3,000-4,000 bunches even during the peak season between November-February. Currently, it ranges between 250 and 750 bunches.

Banana is normally raised on about 8,500 hectares in Tiruchi district every year and the yield is put at over 3.83 lakh tonnes a year. Gandhi Market in Tiruchi gets up to 15,000 bunches a day.

But just a handful of banana growers and traders participate in the weekly auctions at Thiruchendurai, despite the periodic awareness programmes and canvassing done by the Department of Agricultural Marketing and Agri Business to attract more farmers due to a variety of factors.

Official sources point out that Nendran banana is a major variety grown around the complex and this is largely exported to Kerala. Nendran is the largely grown variety within a 20-km radius of Thiruchendurai. Traders pay advance to these farmers, monitor, procure and transport the harvested fruits directly from the fields.

Farmers raising other varieties on the other side of Cauvery prefer to sell their first quality produce at Gandhi Market as they are offered a higher price there by traders. They bring only the second or third quality produce to Thiruchendurai. Not many buyers come here due to the poor arrivals and the quality of fruits, the sources said.

Whenever arrivals have been good, the officials at the complex have been able to ensure that the entire lot is sold and farmers get reasonably good prices. During the peak season, when 3,000 to 5,000 bunches arrive, the officials call big traders from places such as Palani. Big traders, who purchase the fruits in huge quantities for making panchamirtham or for export to places such as Bengaluru, come only if arrivals were substantial. Otherwise, there is no point in them coming here hiring vehicles, the sources said.

Banana growers also hardly use the cold storage. Except for Grand Naine, other varieties of banana are not normally stored at cold storages. The skin of the fruit of other varieties turns black if they are not harvested and stored properly at the right time. Hence farmers do not opt for this, the sources said.

Consequently, the authorities have segregated the storage into 10 compartments so that other commodities can be stored. Yet there is not much utilisation, though there have been enquiries from a few mango and other producers.

‘Poor planning’

G. Ajeethan, General Secretary, Tamil Nadu Banana Growers Federation, blamed poor planning and execution of the project, without giving much consideration to the views of stakeholders, to the current situation. Banana being available right through the year, there was not much necessity to keep them in cold storage, he said and suggested that the cold storage be redesigned to store other commodities at differential temperature and proper pack house facilities be created. Farmers interest groups and farmers producers groups should be sensitised to the availability of the facilities, which should be given on lease at reasonable rents, he said.


No comments

Powered by Blogger.