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Banana Farmers complain that the slump in prices poor demand

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Banana growers in Tiruchi and Karur district have been hit hard due to crash in prices of the fruit in the market.

Farmers complain that the slump in prices of almost all varieties of banana, apparently due to poor demand and heavy arrivals, was causing them huge losses this year. The field price of poovan banana, a popular variety here, has crashed to just ₹3 a kg against its peak price of ₹27 a kg prior to Ayudha puja, said a trader.

According to farmers and traders at Vazhakkai Mandi at Gandhi Market in Tiruchi, one of the biggest markets in the region, the prices have slipped due of a glut in the market and poor demand. The intermittent rain has forced farmers to harvest the fruit early as they started ripening. They had to sell the produce at any price, however low.

“The current price of ₹3 a kg will not even meet labour charges incurred by farmers for harvesting and carrying it off from the field. Banana is grown on thousands of acres in Tiruchi and Karur districts and farmers are literally in tears. Farmers have to spend up to ₹3 lakh to raise banana on an acre,” claimed Puliyur A. Nagarajan, president, farmers’ wing of Tamil Maanila Congress.Stating that both farmers and traders had been hit badly due to the slump in prices and demand, K.P. Palanivel, president, Plantain Merchants’ Association, Gandhi Market, said government should support in marketing.

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According to Mr. Palanivel, a bunch (thaar) of medium quality poovan banana was being sold at just ₹10-100 at the wholesale market in the city now against its normal average price of₹50-270. Good quality poovan banana was being sold at ₹100 to ₹350 against the normal price range of ₹200-700 a bunch, he said.A section of farmers and traders express surprise at the poor demand in the present time – the Sabarimala pilgrimage season, which normally witnesses a spurt in sale of the fruit.However, G. Ajeethan, general secretary, Tamil Nadu Banana Growers’ Federation, sees it as a seasonal phenomenon. “The slump is normal for the period between Deepavali and Pongal. Currently the supply is more than the demand.

The rain across the State has resulted in the spurt in arrival. Over the past four years, there was not much rain during this period and hence farmers were not feeling the pinch,” Mr. Ajeethan observed. Mr. Nagarajan said that demand in neighbouring States such as Karnataka and Kerala have fallen sharply and this was another major reason for the slump in price. Farmers in Andhra Pradesh have taken to banana farming in a big way in recent years and heavy arrivals was reported from the State in places such as Bengaluru, he said.

Mr. Nagarajan demanded that the government fix a minimum procurement price and suggests it procure the fruits for supply in noon meal. Besides, the fruits should be used instead of biscuits or snacks at all government functions, he said.Both Mr. Palanivel and Mr. Nagarajan urged the government to promote banana consumption among people by sensitising them to the fruit’s nutrient value and allay “misconceptions” over its sugar content.

(source : The Hindu)

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