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Drumstick: harvest up, but returns are down

L. Renganathan
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The annual drumstick season in the parched lands of Aravakurichi region in Karur district has picked up but the growers are expressing scepticism over returns as prices have dropped steeply.

Aravakurichi region is famed for its drumstick and during peak season 15 to 30 lorry loads are packed off daily to various destinations from the shandies in the zone. Meaty, long and tasty the drumsticks of the region are a hit with traders from Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Maharashtra, Gujarat, Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal, Delhi, and Rajasthan.

Drumstick is cultivated as garden crop in more than 40,000 acres in Aravakurichi, Pallappatti, Santhapadi, Venjamangudalur, Esanatham, Tadakoil, Koththapalayam, Oothur, Ammapatti, Andipatti, and Malaikovilur areas.

The crop is most suitable for dry and arid stretches of the region where the water table has plummeted to abysmal levels.

The crop withstands humid weather conditions, long stretches of rainless days, inadequate water , and pest attacks.

The second season of the crop is usually between July and September every year and this year too the season has picked up well with growers and farmers harvesting the matured crop in their gardens and bringing them to the special drumstick shandies that have sprouted along the roadsides in Aravakurichi, Esanatham, Pallappatti, Andipatti, Malaikovilur, and Manalmedu in Karur district besides those in neighbouring Dindigul, Tirupur, and Erode districts. Local traders and those from other States quote their best prices in open auction at the shandies depending on the arrivals every day .

“This year there has been no rain and the crop was good as winds too did not affect the flowering stage.

The bountiful harvest however has not been of any help to us as the produce is fetching only Rs.5 per kg and that will not measure up to even labour and input cost,’’ rues T.Arumugha Gounder a grower of Santhapadi village.

We understand the plight of the growers but are helpless as the price of drumstick has plummeted in the northern and western markets Ramulal Chandrakar, a trader from Nagpur and a regular at the drumstick shandies here said, adding that it is inexplicable that while the price of several vegetables has skyrocketed, some have found fewer takers.

Is there a possibility of the price picking up in the days ahead?

None could foretell as the markets are fickle and prices fluctuate not just with the arrivals and demand but are pressured by external factors as well, another trader Sajjad Hussaini from Bidar opines painting a gloomy picture ahead for the drumstick growers of Aravakurichi.

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