Madurai

It is sugarcane time

Will disappear fast: Workers unload sugarcane in Simmakkal ahead of pongal on Sunday.

Will disappear fast: Workers unload sugarcane in Simmakkal ahead of pongal on Sunday.  

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‘People have not forgotten their tradition and roots yet’

With just three days to go for Pongal festival, Simmakkal area is witnessing chaotic activities.

Vendors are making bundles of 15 sugarcanes and selling them for ₹250, ₹300, ₹350 and ₹400, depending on the length of the cane. Although arrival of sugarcane is good due to better yield following copious rainfall, commission agents say profits are thin in the retail market.

B. J. Kamaraj, owner of Bose Sugarcane Shop on South Canal Bank Road, says household consumption of sugarcane has been steadily falling over the last couple of years, causing sugarcane to be used for purely for ornamental purpose. “Not many youngsters are tearing and eating sugarcane during Pongal. Although our intention is to sell bundles of 15, people tend to buy just two or three small pieces,” he says.

G. Muthukumar, the manager of the shop, says poor state of the economy is reflecting in the sale of sugarcane as well. “People have very less disposable income these days. So they are content with buying single canes for ₹50 to ₹70 to offer to the god. Earlier, sugarcane formed an integral part of Pongal festival and no house can be seen without so many canes,” he says.

S. Raja, a farmer from Chinna Mangulam, says sugarcane is mainly raised by farmers in Melur, Kallandiri, Keelavalavu and Chinna Mangulam in Madurai district. “Salem, Ettimangalam, and Nagapattinam are major producers in the State. Our farms have good crops which will not get spoilt with time. The rates though remain a problem. We sell our bundles for ₹ 150 and ₹200,” he says.

However, buyers like M. Ponnusamy says bundles of sugarcane will definitely be sold out before the end of the festival. “People have not forgotten their tradition and roots yet. The entire jallikattu protest in 2017 was about holding on to our tradition. Many people on social media platforms like Tik Tok take festival pride seriously. I am sure the agents will see good profits,” he says.

Besides sugarcane, people also buy turmeric. P. Jaya, a vendor, says it is sold for ₹30 a kg. “The sales will pick up closer to the festival date,” she says.

Watch | All about Jallikattu

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Printable version | Jan 27, 2020 11:32:53 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Madurai/it-is-sugarcane-time/article30554837.ece

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