Manapparai cattle trade: Strange practice in vogue forces retail traders to spend night at market
The iconic Manapparai cattle market in the State sees the arrival of over 5,000 cows on a weekly basis.
TIRUCHY: The iconic Manapparai cattle market in the State sees the arrival of over 5,000 cows on a weekly basis. Thousand of cattle farmers visit the market, the popularity of which was captured on silver screen as early as 1957 when Sivaji Ganesan's was seen singing 'Manapparai maadu katti' in one of his films. Trade at the market begins at 3 pm on Tuesdays and is held till 9 am on Wednesday. Cattle breeders from across Tamil Nadu and Kerala gather in huge numbers for the market.
Traders often report good business as a calf is sometimes auctioned for as high as Rs 25,000 and a bull, Rs 2 lakh. Every week, thousands of cows and bulls are sent by lorries to Kerala from Manapparai. Samsudeen Mohamed from Palakkad, who has been transporting cows to Kerala for the past 10 years, said, "Many of these animals are sent for slaughter. Some animals are used in farms too.
No other cattle market is comparable with Manapparai when it comes to health of the animals." TNIE recently visited the market post dusk and had a night-long interaction with farmers. They highlighted various issues they face, including lack of proper infrastructure, drinking water facilities and sufficient light. Due to a practice in vogue for decades, retail farmers and their cattle stay at the market for the whole night, and farmers take turns to have an eye on the cattle while others sleep.
Wholesale buyers are permitted to leave after the trade. K Ayyappan, a retail buyer, said, "I come from Kodaikkanal. Last time, I bought an Uzhavu Maadu (bull). However, I could not leave the market even after the purchase was over. That is the norm followed here. I lose two days here during trade period." Manoj from Dindigul, who bought two cows and a calf at the market, said,
"I can manage without water, but how do you expect my cattle to do that all night? Apart from paying for food and water, I have to pay Rs 20 for entering the market, and Rs 250 for a transaction." When asked about the strange practice warranting retail buyer and seller to stay back overnight, a source from the contractor who is maintaining the market, said, "There have been instances of residents of nearby villagers coming at night and saying that an animal has been stolen.
We do not want the seller of a stolen animal or the buyer to leave. By making them stay overnight, we ensure that nobody comes the next morning claiming that one of their animals was stolen. Many incidents of thefts were reported in the past. So, this has been the custom for many years."
However, there was no answer to a question as what would they do if a stolen animal is sent along with a wholesale buyer. On the lack of facilities, municipal commissioner S N Siyamala, who acknowledged the market to be a major source of income for the local body, said, "We are planning to provide borewell water and sufficient lights using MLA fund. However, the work is getting delayed as the local council is yet to meet to elect its chairperson."