As the first load of sugarcane landed in the city on Monday ahead of Pongal, the Koyambedu market got a taste of the coming whirlwind of traders and goods that is due to descend on it.
Sugarcane traders and wholesalers said that they hoped for better sales than last year, which, they claimed, saw abysmal profits as a large number of agriculturists chose to market their own produce instead of selling them to traders.
Guru Suburayan, a sugarcane trader for the last 15 years, said that sales last year was very bad. “Last year, I hardly managed to break even. We had to buy stacks of 20 canes each at `300, but managed to sell them barely for `250. I hope we’ll see some profit this year atleast.”
This year’s prices stand currently at `300, 200 and 150 for first, second and third quality cane respectively. But Varadharajan, another trader from the city, said that the last few days before Pongal was when they would usually see good sales, with first quality cane selling for more than `400 a bundle.
“We can hardly blame sugarcane growers for selling us their produce at exorbitant prices,” he said. “They find it hard to break even as well. But when they choose to sell their goods directly at the market, they can undercut us by more than `50.”
But the overall mood among traders is one of hopefulness. As one loadman with a bundle of first quality cane put it, “It can only get better than last year.”