Coop. bank’s drive gives boost to tapioca farming

As the State government announced recently its decision to include dried tapioca in the monthly food kits, the occasion also marked the successful culmination of a campaign of the Kanamala Service Cooperative Bank in Kottayam.

The bank, located in Erumely grama panchayat, kick-started a campaign to include dried tapioca - a staple for hundreds of families in Central Travancore - in the monthly ration in view of the struggles faced by tapioca farmers in the aftermath of COVID-19. While area under the crop had increased considerably during the lockdown period, the bumper harvest led to a sharp fall in prices from ₹20 to ₹7 per kg.

The bank, which recently initiated tapioca farming in over 16 acres, drew on its first-hand experience to launch the campaign. Binoy Jose, president of the bank, submitted a memorandum in this regard to the State government through Cooperation Minister V.N.Vasavan and the attempt has now reaped rich dividends .

Having included half a kg of dried tapioca in every kit from July on a trial basis, the government has now approached the bank through the cooperative society registrar seeking suggestions on implementing the project.

Accordingly, it has now carried out a detailed study of the tapioca farming in Kerala and submitted a project report to the official. “In terms of income, tapioca is the third largest crop to be cultivated in the State. As per agriculture statistics of 2018-19, tapioca is planted in 61,874 hectares across Kerala and brings an income of ₹4,086.22 crore every year,” pointed out Mr.Jose

The idea of procuring the processed tapioca through the cooperative societies and distributing it through the Civil Supplies Department was developed during an interaction with James Vadakkan, a former banker who has done extensive research in the subject, he added. The procurement plan proposed by the institution also envisages implementation of about 6,500 twin-dryer machines and processing of at least 6,458 tonnes of tapioca on a daily basis throughout the 180-day harvest season.

The campaign, launched in February this year, received wide support from the tapioca farmers in the region.

“This is the last resort for farmers as cultivation of tapioca has become a loss-making proposition. The production of dried tapioca involves some costs, and the government should account these while fixing the base price for the product,” said Palakuzhiyil Prasad, a tapioca farmer in Pampavalley, Kottayam.

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Printable version | Sep 27, 2021 10:27:35 PM |

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