TIRUCHY: Several bundles of banana leaves are decomposing in markets these days. Due to the lockdown, two major buyers — restaurants and catering services — are staying away from procuring it. This has pushed the cultivators to the verge of heavy loss.
“We have invested several lakhs of rupees into this and now all of it is going into waste. Apart from the closure of local business, we are unable to transport it to other districts or states. We are just letting the crops die without harvesting it as it requires spending more money on labour,” said Gopinath, a banana leaf cultivator from the district.
While the government allows transport of essential commodities, cultivators say that it is of little use to them as most of them do not predominantly use lorries for transportation.
Mathi Alagan, one of the leading exporter from the delta regions said, “Our major transport is through omni private buses. They cost `50-60 for each bundle. However, they are not available for service now. Also, banana leaves have short shelf life.”
It is to note that as much 50,000 acres is used for cultivating banana leaves in delta districts alone.
On the other hand, meeting the needs of labourers has become an added pressure for few large scale producers.
Mathi Alagan, “Majority of the works are done by labourers. We have more than 20 laborers along with their families living with us. With no income, we are struggling to take care of their needs as well.”
Little help from govt move
While the government allows transport of essential commodities, banana leaf cultivators say that the concession is of little use to them as most of the leaf cultivators do not use lorries and instead relied on mini omni buses