The integrated banana commercial complex established at Thiruchendurai near Jeeyapuram in the district is expected to help farmers improve post-harvest handling of the fruit grown in the region.
The facility, declared open by Chief Minister Jayalalithaa on Monday, has been established at a cost of Rs. 4 crore with financial assistance under the National Agriculture Development Programme. The complex includes a 1,000-tonne capacity cold storage, cleaning, sorting, grading, and packaging areas. It will get uninterrupted power supply.
The complex is easily accessible to farmers in the banana-growing belt of the region along the Tiruchi-Karur stretch on the National Highway 67.
Banana is raised on about 8,500 hectares of land normally and the yield is put at 3.83 lakh tonnes a year. While banana varieties such as nendran and neipoovan , which are in good demand in Kerala and Karnataka, are directly procured by traders from the field, farmers raising other varieties mostly transport their produce to Gandhi Market in the city. Farmers have to shell out up to 13 per cent commission charges to intermediaries who auction the banana at the market.
The establishment of the integrated complex at Thiruchendurai could help farmers get better price as auctions were to be held here through the Tiruchi Market Committee, which would bear the operational expenditure of the facility.
Sources in the Department of Agri Business and Marketing said the facility would help reduce post-harvest losses. Poor post-harvest handling of the fruits resulted in 20 to 30 per cent loss. Farmers could store their produce at the cold storage at a nominal cost. Auctions at the complex would begin soon. At present, the harvest season in the district was over and arrivals were lean.
“The facility will benefit farmers of the region as open auction could fetch them better prices. Besides, farmers can store their produce for some days at the cold storage if they are not able to get good prices immediately. Farmers can store their produce at least for 10 days even though experts in the field say the fruits can be stored for about 30 days if processed properly,” said A. Nagarajan, president, Tamil Nadu Horticulture Crop Producers Association.