TIRUCHY: After many plantain trees withered in the scorching heat, farmers are struggling to meet the demand for these leaves in the market. With water scarcity looming large in the State and hoteliers planning to stop serving lunch, the market for banana leaves has become very volatile.
Speaking to Express, major suppliers of banana leaves claimed that there has been almost 50 per cent drop in the production of these leaves.
“We used to get over 25,000 leaves per day. However, its has come down to 10,000 leaves per day owing to extreme weather and strong winds. This also has a bearing on the quality of the leaves. Hence, it has become very difficult to supply leaves to Chennai among other districts,” said Mathiazhagan, a major banana leaf cultivator with 35 acres in Thiruvaiyaru and Thirukattupalli.
Echoing similar concerns, another farmer Munisamy from Somarasempettai hoped that the situation would better only there was sufficient rainfall. “Due to the drought-like situation continued, then eateries and hotels would stop serving food on banana leaves,” he feared. Explaining the plight of banana leaves farmers, Nagappa Chettiyar, a major leaf supplier in Tiruchy, said,
“With the current rate of production, we are able to meet only the district’s requirement. Although facing a crisis during the summer season is nothing unusual, the situation is much worse this year. The crisis is also affecting customer relationship.”
According to market sources, about four lakh banana leaves are required to meet the district’s need. While usually six lakh leaves are sent to Chennai every day, it has come down to three lakh now.
“The production of leaves would increase with a week-long shower. Until then, the State government should think of introducing programmes to support the leaf growers to make their ends meet,” said the secretary of Tamil Nadu Banana Growers Federation, G Ajeethan.