Plantain growers incur loss, Poovalai conquers the market

Plantain growers incur loss, Poovalai conquers the market

Plantain growers in the district are a battered lot as they are facing stiff competition for their produce from the ‘Poovalai’ variety from Salem, in the neighbouring Tamil Nadu.

They are also affected as their crop is infected with diseases as a result of failure of monsoon and the traders do not either weigh their crop or offer them proper price.

Yelakki variety, which was sold at Rs 28 to 30 per kg during Sankranthi, has come down to Rs 23 to 25 due to the availability of ‘Puvalai’ in abundance. ‘Puvalai’ is sold at Rs 15 to 18 per kg.

Plantain is grown on irrigated land in all four taluks of the district. While ‘Pachabale’ (robusta) is grown in Gundlupet taluk, Yelakki is grown in Chamarajanagar, Kollegal and Yalandur taluks. Yelakki is the sweetest of all varieties and is in great demand in Kerala, Andhra Pradesh and Bangalore. However, the farmers do not have direct access to the markets in these regions and hence traders pocket all the profit.

Traders get lease of farms for a lump sum from farmers and harvest the crop. So, farmers does not even get a clear picture of the quantity of their produce. Only small farmers sell their produce in the local market.  The Agriculture Produce Marketing Committee (APMC) yard receives just over 250 kg plantain per week. The local market is ruled by private shops or ‘mandis’.

The mandi owners do not weigh the bunches of plantain, instead, they offer Rs 300 to 500 for four bunches of Yelakki variety, depending on the size. Pachabale is sold for not more than Rs 150 for three bunches.

Even as the farmers are suffering due to the crash in prices, the yield has reduced due to diseases. Even if traders buy infected produce, the price offered is almost 50 per cent of the normal price, said Kumar, a farmer.

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