MARAYOOR: As Kerala failed to utilise the over-`500-crore Idukki package to mitigate the the farmers in distress, there seems to be no end in sight for the numerous problems faced by the jaggery farmers who are on the verge of bankruptcy.
Over 3,000 sugarcane farmers in the region are a worried lot particularly due to the government’s failure in introducing a transparent jaggery procurement system by traders.
“The farmers have to believe the traders’ version which is always discouraging. Now the report being floated among the farming community is that there is no demand for jaggery even as the Onam season is round the corner,” O Jose, a farmer told ‘Express’.
The farmers are facing this challenge at a time when they have overcome a series of ordeals in the cultivation of sugarcane.
At the initial stage of cultivation during January to May the challenge was shortage of water. The region situated abutting on Tamil Nadu gets scant rainfall even during monsoon and whatever water it gets is from Pamba river gushing from different points in the higher reaches of Munnar and other regions, said Marayoor panchayat member Jimmy, a farmer.
“The next big challenge was to deal with pests. And the latest in the line was the report of fall in prices,” he said.
Another problem is the poor quality of jaggery being sold under the brand name of Marayoor jaggery.
Ironically, when one kg of jaggery is sold at a minimum price of `70 in the retail market, the traders offer a maximum of `40 per kg.
About 2,000 hectares of land is under sugarcane cultivation. One acre of land would fetch 65 bags of jaggery with each bag weighing 60 kg.