There is also scope for going for value addition in banana
Banana growers of the district, who are badly in need of cold storage facility to get competitive price, may put into use the underutilised cold storage in the sagging flower market at Kaavalkinaru Junction.
As the hamlets around Nanguneri, Radhapuram, Panagudi and Valliyoor produce huge quantity of flowers and the farmers have to sell their produce to the buyers, mostly from neighbouring Kerala, at the price fixed by middlemen, a flower market was established at Kaavalkinaru Junction, a highly advantageous point, with cold storage facility.
Subsequently, the floriculturists, who had to hitherto sell their produce to the middlemen of Thovaalai Market for the price fixed by the trader-middlemen cartel, could fix the right price for their produce. \
However, the joy was only short-lived as the cartel won the battle against the farmers and took the mainstream flower market once again to Thovalai, leaving the two-year old flower market in the lurch.
Since the cold storage facility in this market is underutilised now, it can be used by the banana growers cultivating the crop between Thirukkurunkudi and Cheranmahadevi and transact business to the tune of over Rs. 50 crore annually.
When the farmers' grievance day was held recently, the farmers from Kalakkadu region appealed to Collector R. Selvaraj to initiate serious steps for the construction of a cold storage facility at Kalakkad.
Even as Dr. Selvaraj was keen on identifying a land for the project, the agricultural marketing department officials, who were not very much enthusiastic about this proposal, repeatedly said getting a land from the revenue department for 50 year lease was not possible.
However, the Collector asked the farmers as well as the officials to identify a land for the cold storage.
“Now, this is a biggest opportunity to put into use the sparingly used cold storage facility at the flower market. If the banana growers can bring their produce to this market and keep it in the cold storage, they can get the best price from the traders. Since there is no cold storage facility now, the farmers, who take advance from the traders, have to sell their produce at the price fixed by the traders even as banana price in the open market is quite high. If the cold storage is put to use, the banana growers will be the happiest lot,” said a senior official from the Department of Agriculture.
Though the farmers are in favour of a cold storage at Kalakkad area, most of them are prepared to use the Kaavalkinaru cold storage.
“Apart from keeping our produce in the cold storage, there is more scope for going for value-addition in banana, with which the traders earn in crores of rupees. So the government should also establish a centre at Kaavalkinaru market for banana value-addition also,” said K. Murugan, a banana grower.