Climatic changes cut Madurai 'malli' yield by 50 per cent

Unseasonal rain in May affects buds bringing down harvest from 20 kg per acre to 10 kg, say farmers
Farmers in the Madurai region rue that the increased moisture and changing weather have also led to pest infestation
Farmers in the Madurai region rue that the increased moisture and changing weather have also led to pest infestation Express photo

MADURAI: The famous Madurai malli’s fragrance has died down in strength as the changing climatic conditions have hampered its harvest, with farmers ruing that the yield has dropped by 50%. Farmers have also alleged that the Mission for Madurai Malli, initiated by the state government in 2022 to develop jasmine cultivation, is yet to take effect.

Among the major horticulture crops, jasmine cultivation in Madurai is usually taken up on 1,700 hectares of land. Notably, cultivable areas have increased in the district over the past couple of years.

According to the agriculture department, in 2022- 2023, jasmine cultivation in Madurai was taken up on 1,674.95 hectares, which increased to 1,711.53 hectares in 2023-24. Usilampatti and Thiruparankundram blocks remain the major contributors to jasmine cultivation, with over 400 hectares of cultivated areas in each block. Under the Mission for Madurai malli, the state government distributed planting materials and cooler boxes to transport the jasmine flowers and other materials to the farmers.

Even as cultivated areas have increased, farmers are struggling to handle the post-harvest loss owing to fluctuating prices in the markets, which are generally based on special occasions. Speaking to TNIE, S Ramachandran, a trader and exporter of jasmine stated that the flower’s price dropped massively owing to a lack of demand.

While the flowers of good quality are sold at Rs 300-350 per kilo, flowers of poorer quality, which are used to extract the scent, are sold for less than Rs 250 per kilo.

Notably, the prices have been above Rs 2,000-3,000 per kilo before the harvest season, but have now plummeted.

“While the dip in prices is giving us a hard time, the weather conditions are not favourable either. Earlier, during April and May, we could harvest nearly 20 kilos per acre, but due to the unseasonal rain in mid-May, the harvest has dropped by 50% and the yield is just 10 kilos per acre. The unseasonal rain has affected the buds, and the increased moisture content and changing weather lead to pest infestation as well.” said Marudhupandian, a jasmine farmer from Usilampatti.

Meanwhile, several farmers alleged that many did not receive the benefits provided under the Mission for Madurai Malli scheme.

Official sources said that the establishment of two jasmine nurseries in Ramanathapuram, which was planned under the scheme, is yet to materialise due to land allocation issues. Officials stated that over `50 lakh has been allotted for the establishment of these nurseries.

Experts from the export sector stated that jasmine is among the most exported flowers from Madurai. Though the state government has taken measures to promote jasmine cultivation, production must be increased further and measures must be taken to increase the exports.

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