THANJAVUR: Banana farmers are worst hit as the auction centres remain closed and the demand for plantain leaves has plummeted following the closure of eateries across the State. Banana is cultivated in around 11,500 acres in the district.
P Sukumaran, a farmer from Tirupoonthurthi, told TNIE that on Sunday he cut as many as 15 bunches which had rotten in the tree itself. There was no market and finding transport was a difficult task, he added.
The auction centres for the banana bunches located in Nadukkadai and Tiruvaiyaru are closed due to the lockdown, which added to the woes of the banana farmers. Besides the fruits, farmers also get revenue by selling banana leaves to hotels and eateries. The farmers used to sell the leaves to agents, who usually send it to far off places like Chennai, on omni buses every day.
“With the closure of most of the hotels across the State, the demand for plantain leaves also plummeted,” said Sivarasu, a farmer in Tirukkattupalli. He added that a farmer could get up to Rs 1 lakh per year by selling plantain leaves and used to offset the losses in the fruit yield. Now even that avenue has been closed.
“The government should immediately allow the opening of the auction centres at Nadukkadai and Tiruvaiyaru to sell the banana and betel leaves”, Sukumar said.
He further pointed out in the absence of harvest of banana bunches and betel leaves the farmers had to spend up to Rs 2,000 for irrigating the fields using diesel engine so that the crop does not wither. He also wanted compensation for the farmers who lost revenue during the lock down.