Facilities to be offered to farmers in Vazhapadi
In a bid to help farmers directly sell areca nut to traders so as to get a better price for their agricultural produce, the Salem Agricultural Producers’ Co-operative Marketing Society Limited has opened its premises at Vazhapadi to sell areca nut under the tender system from Tuesday.
Areca nut farmers of Vazhapadi in the district claimed that they were not able to reap big returns for their cash crop’s produce despite the price of the nut climbing as high as Rs. 450 a kilogram this year. A visit to these areas of cultivation showed that areca nut growers were highly unorganised, with no association in place for the farmers. The farmers and traders said that there could be close to 1,000 small scale farmers who are cultivating this crop in Kotavadi, Singapuram, Manakaatur, Ethapur and in the nearby villages.
C. Balasubramaniam (40), a farmer cum trader, who grows areca trees on two acres, said that most of the farmers were growing trees on a small scale basis, mostly in 25 cents to two acres of land. “Area under cultivation is taken on lease by farmers in the upper strata of society (and or traders), who fix the price of harvest from each tree, annually, and harvest the nut”, he said.
He said that, this year, the harvest has also come down drastically due to the drought, which has badly affected the cultivation.
Another farmer R. Mani (57), of Padayachur near Vazhapadi, said that about 20 per cent of Areca nut trees had dried up due to water scarcity. “Like me, many farmers lost the entire area under cultivation”, he lamented and added that he has started the cultivation afresh this year.
Farmers and traders said that the quantity of nut harvested from trees that survived the drought has dropped by 50 per cent.
The average quantity of Areca nut harvested from a tree annually is about a kilogram which has gone down by 50 per cent this year, they pointed out.