SOURCE: The Hindu
Crisis triggered by a dip in demand
Banana and tapioca farmers across the district are facing a steep fall in prices owing to a dip in demand, though banana farmers are looking forward to a slight improvement in the situation after March, ahead of the Onam season.
The pandemic had seen farmers take up cultivation of both the crops seriously and expand acreage under them. It is learnt that there are around 8,000 hectares under ‘nendran’ and other banana varieties, while tapioca is spread over 5,000 hectares.
Paulose Pongathil, a banana and tapioca farmer from Mekkadambu near Muvattupuzha, said that the price of nendran banana had fallen to ₹30 (USD 0.41) a kg this season as against ₹35 to ₹40 (USD 0.48-0.55) last season. He added that ₹35 to ₹40 would be the remunerative price for farmers.
At the same time, the price of tapioca fell to ₹7 a kg (USD 0.01). This is not a situation where tapioca cultivation is remunerative, said P. Sasheendran from Avoli. He added that he had harvested the crop on two acres and got only ₹7 a kg at the farm gate.
“We are forced to sell at the price decided by merchants,” he said even as he felt that the cycle of price fall had hit farmers across the State hard. He added that ₹25 to ₹30 (USD 0.35-0.41) was expected this year, as COVID-19 restrictions had eased and demand was expected to pick up.
The closure of catering business units in towns was one of the key reasons for the slackened demand for tapioca, which is an all-time favourite for those who eat out. Mr. Sasheendran said he had delayed harvesting tapioca from another 1.5 acres because of the low price.