INDIA: Avocados flood Chennai markets but finds few takers

Avocados are here. The pear-shaped fruit, also known as butter fruit for its taste and texture, has arrived in the city markets from Kodaikanal a month earlier this year. About two tonnes of avocados have been flooding the Koyambedu market every day since the first week of July. Traders across the state say the yield this year has been of good quality and size.


But avocados are not consumed by all. Though highly nutritious, the fruit is sought after only by hotels and juice shops, say traders in Koyambedu. At juice kiosks, the butter fruit is used in place of milk to make shakes. Restaurants use it in salads.


Though bland, avocado has several health benefits. It is known to increase the rate of absorption of nutrients when taken with a meal and cuts down on cholesterol. But the fruit, priced between 80 and 100 per kilo at the city’s largest market, is in demand only among the affluent class. It is largely overlooked as it does not satiate the palate, said the Koyambedu fruits, vegetables and flower traders association secretary D Manivannan.


Avocados are cultivated in large horticultural farms in Kodaikanal. There are about five lakh trees in the lower Palani hills. The trees start bearing fruits when seven and live for about 40 years during which they reach a height of 30 to 40 feet. The fruit is usually taken to the market when it starts ripening in August and September. According to horticulturist S Mohanasundaram from Thandikudi, avocados are available two times a year. The fruit available now is the off-season variety colloquially known as ‘kodaikai’ (summer fruit). The seasonal yield ‘kaalathukai’ appeared between October and December.


Mohanasundaram said though avocados were in high demand everywhere, in Tamil Nadu about 90% of the produce was sent to Kerala. The fruits are free from pesticides, said Mohanasundaram as avocados grow too high to be treated with chemicals.


But unlike the avocados, which despite a high yield are being sold at a higher price, the price of jackfruits grown in the Sirumalai hills has gone down drastically due to over production. Timely rains, said farmers, have resulted in greater number of fruits this year. Sirumalai jackfruits, though small, have less water content and are sweeter when compared to the dominant Panruti variety. P Kumaravel, a trader from Dindigul, said a jackfruit weighing about 5kg is being sold at 40 only and that could go down further as in the next two months.


Source: Times of India

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