TIRUCHY: Pongal is around the corner but sugarcane farmers in Tiruchy district are worried. They say procurement for festival gift hamper distribution at fair price shops is yet to commence and also point to last yea's field inspection already getting completed before January.
Manikandan, a farmer from Madhavaperumal Koil near Nochiyam in Tiruchy told The New Indian Express, "I had doubled the cane cultivation this year. Last year it was done in just over an acre. This time too, I have an acre ready for procurement."
He also pointed to how last year the procurement price was Rs 22 per sugarcane and cooperative officials procuring nearly 25,000 pieces. "While I doubled the plantation, due to losses caused by untimely rain and soil conditions, the harvest has been the same. If the authorities don’t procure it, we will not be able to sell enough to make ends meet," he says.
Other farmers in the locality, as well as those in Thiruvalarsolai and Panayapuram, which are known for sugarcane cultivation, also echoed his concerns. "The distribution of Pongal hamper at ration shops will begin soon and it is already too late," Manikandan rued.
Muruganandam T, the president of Vivasaya Makkal Nala Sangam, Kondayam Pettai, said, "There is upwards of 100 acres of harvest-ready sugarcane for Pongal. Last year, healthy canes went up to Rs 33 apiece. The price was fixed before January itself. This time authorities are, however, yet to pay a visit. As every day passes, the risk gets higher. If they aren't procuring from us, then it would be hard to find market before Pongal. No one is going to need it after the festivities are over."
When enquired, a cooperative society authority said, "Due to rains the procurement is delayed. It would be done soon. We have commenced procurement in some places already."