CHENNAI : The price of Pongal staples, sugarcane and banana, were expected to be dearer this year due to cyclone Gaja, which left a trail of destruction in the farmlands of delta districts. But, in what might seem like a good news for buyers, the cost of the two have plummeted by 30 per cent in the city, say vendors at the Koyambedu wholesale market.
V Narayanan, a wholesale banana dealer at Koyambedu market said, “Cyclone Gaja uprooted a number of plants. The farmers stored whatever produce they had to sell for Pongal as there is excessive demand during the festival. However, due to the nature of the fruit, most bananas ripened in the warehouses itself and there is only demand for unripe bananas in the wholesale market.”
The expected market price of the Poovan variety of banana, which is mostly sold during Pongal, was `25-`30 per kg. However, it was being sold between `8 and `14, on Friday. Even sugarcane prices were set low. One bunch (15 pieces) of best quality sugarcane was priced at `300. P Selvan, a sugarcane vendor, said that only 20 truckloads of sugarcanes had arrived so far. Prices might dip further this weekend as more than 1,000 vehicles are expected to arrive.
PGM Sukumar, treasurer of Koyambedu Vegetable, Fruit and Flower Vendors Association, said they received a good amount of produce from other areas that were not affected by the cyclone. “The yield was very good at Athur, Krishnagiri, Salem, Cuddalore and Panruti. We are not expecting any major increase or decrease in the current price this weekend. Only the supply of tender coconut was badly hit due to Gaja and we will know the effect of this in summer. For now, it will be a happy and pocket-friendly Pongal for Chennaiites.”