Prolonged spell of drought has affected the yield of cucumber, palmyrah fruits
The mercury has been continuously soaring for the past few days in Tiruchi city and the surrounding areas. People consume summer fruits and drinks, including the traditional kamban koozh, to off-seat effects of the heat.
But summer fruits like the cucumber fruit (vellari pazham) and palmyrah fruit (nongu), which used to flood the market, have become scarce this year, thanks to the prolonged spell of drought. This has come as a shock to the consumer and also the hawkers from the nearby villages who used to sell these fruits on the roadside in the city during summer.
Women from nearby villages used to set up shop on the roadside at spots like the flyover near the Head Post Office to sell cucumber from the break of dawn till evening throughout the summer season.
The city used to receive heavy loads of cucumber fruits during the summer months. Cucumber, like water melon, prevents dehydration.
Despite the region being in the middle of the summer, roadside vendors selling palmyrah fruit and cucumber has become a rarity in the city.
These hawkers used to procure the fruit from villages such as Iniyaanallur, Mutharasanallur, Pirattiyur and so on early in the morning and later bring them to the city.
A large number of farmers of these villages used to raise the cucumber fruits in their field getting a good revenue.
This year only one farmer raised this fruit in Iniyaanallur, thanks to the prevailing drought. Even the fruits available on his field are expected to last only a couple of more days.
“About 50 women from Pirattiyur alone used to make light of the heat and dust to market the special summer fruit that gives the buyers an internal break from the heat with its high water content. We used to make good profit by marketing this fruit during summer. Now, our dreams are shattered,” says V. Rani of Pirattiyur.
Even if they try to raise this crop, it will take another two months for harvesting this fruit, and by the time summer will be over, Ms. Rani says. Scarcity has pushed up the price.
Small sized fruits are now sold at Rs. 100 a piece. As the fruits sell like hot cakes, the women return home by noon itself.
Yet another reason for the dwindling arrival of cucumber is the conversion of the fields abutting the city into housing plots, she says.