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Watermelons withering into lemons as traders stop sending lorries due to coronavirus lockdown

Watermons cultivated here are taken to various districts and also states like Kerala, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana and Karnataka.

Published: 26th March 2020 10:22 AM  |   Last Updated: 26th March 2020 10:22 AM   |  A+A-

Express News Service

ARIYALUR: All went well until the COVID -19 outbreak. Watermelon cultivating farmers across Ariyalur district suffered huge loss as traders did not procure the product due to the coronavirus lockdown. Farmers in Jayankondam and T.Pazur areas have been cultivating watermelon in about 250 acres land.

Watermons cultivated here are taken to various districts and also states like Kerala, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana and Karnataka.

For the past one week, traders stopped sending lorries to procure watermelons.

The sale was completely stalled becuase of three reasons. Firstly, watermelon reportedly lost its market as people refrained buying it out of fear that they would catch cold (symptom of COVID-19) after consuming it.

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Secondly, transportation of heavy load vehicles almost came to a standstill.

With imposition of curfew and the resultant restrictions, the traders could not set up shop on roadsides and also people could not step out of their houses to buy them.

Thillai Natarajan, a farmer in Gangavadanganallur said “I cultivated watermelon in seven acres. I spent around Rs 30,000 an acre for inputs. Normally, I get yield of 20 tonnes from one acre. So, I get approximately Rs 1.15 lakhs from one acre. As it will not last long, I harvested the ripened ones. But there are no traders to buy them.”

At Thazuthazaimedu, Veerachozapuram, Guruvalapparkoil, Meikkavalputhur, Kundaveli and Vembukudi, many farmers did not harvest the ripe fruits and left them as crops.

Elangovan, a farmer from Thazuthazaimedu, said “If there is some intervention possible at this time, at least 50 percent of the watermelons could be saved. Otherwise everything will go waste. Many ripe fruits already developed cracks and birds are eating them. It is a 70-80 day crop and ours have already exceeded
it.”

Another farmer Manikandan of Sambodai, said that since the second week of March the price started declining and now procurement itself has stopped.

He said “In the second week of March, traders bought one tone of watermelon for Rs 1,500 - 2,000. Normally the price should have been more than Rs 5, 000. The traders told us that because of corona and cold fears, many stopped taking watermelon. Now they are not even turning up for procurement.”

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