Madurai

Sugarcane sale picks up ahead of Pongal festival

Sugarcane being unloaded from a truck at Yanaikal in Madurai on Tuesday.   | Photo Credit: G. Moorthy

Simmakkal and Yanaikkal areas here were awash with sugarcane bundles on Tuesday as farmers and commission agents were selling them to customers ahead of Pongal festival.

There are two types of sugarcanes known as ‘Aalakarumbu’ and ‘Senkarumbu,’ of which the former is sent to sugar mills and the latter is grown only for Pongal festival.

Vendors were selling bundles of 15 sugarcanes each for ₹ 400, ₹ 350, ₹ 250 and ₹ 200, depending on the length and quality. Despite the higher arrival of sugarcane following copious rainfall, the profits are lower this year, say farmers and commission agents.

B.J. Kamaraj, a commission agent, said that purchase cost from farmers, cane cutting, transport and labour cost will total up to around ₹ 300 for each bundle. “But we earn only marginal profits from retail sales. The spending capacity of the people have come down owing to the financial distress caused by COVID-19 pandemic,” he said.

The mild drizzles witnessed in the city on Tuesday also affected the sale of sugarcanes, said Vazha Karuppu, a retailer.

“There has been a steady drop in the household consumption of sugarcane nowadays. People buy a few sugarcanes just for the sake of the Pongal festival,” he added.

Despite having good yields of sugarcanes this year, the farmers were not able to earn higher margins, said R. Murugan, a farmer from Chinna Mangulam.

Farmers say that the government procured a bundle of sugarcane for around ₹ 225 to be sold at the ration shops as part of the Pongal gift hamper. “But this is lower as compared to last year when the government procured a bundle for ₹ 280. The farmers also sold sugarcanes for lower rates to the government as they were anxious that they might not be able to sell their produce after the Pongal festival,” added Mr. Murugan.

Middlemen procure a sugarcane bundle for only around ₹ 230 from farmers, said P. Thangapandi, a farmer.

“It is high time that the farmers started selling sugarcanes directly to customers without middlemen,” he added.

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Printable version | Mar 8, 2021 3:17:25 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Madurai/sugarcane-sale-picks-up-ahead-of-pongal-festival/article33560172.ece

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