Sharp fall in price hits plantain farmers hard in Wayanad

Arrivals from Karnataka, closure of markets seen as reasons for fall in price

A slump in the market price of the “nendran” variety of plantain during the Onam season has created a crisis for farmers in Wayanad district.

The spot price of the first grade ‘nendran’ variety was ₹21 a kg on Thursday as against ₹38 a kg during the corresponding period last year.

The large-scale arrival of the produce from Karnataka and closure of markets in various parts of the State following COVID-19 restrictions are the major reasons for fall in price of the produce, trading sources said.

Moreover, summer rain and heavy winds destroyed nearly 30% of plants in many parts of the district, leaving hundreds of farmers with poor quality produce, the demand for which is less. There was no enquiry for the produce from units making banana chips and vendors in the neighbouring districts owing to the COVID-related restrictions.

Hence, a majority part of the produce was selling as a vegetable item in the markets and this led to a fall in the price, they said.

Usually, farmers in the district plant the ‘nendran’ variety of plantain for harvesting during the Onam season as they get a remunerative price for it. But this year, the multiple factors dashed the hopes of the farming community, A.K. Kunhikrishnan, a farmer at Meeanangadi, said.

The price of second grade plantain in the market was ₹15 a kg, but many traders were refusing to buy it, Mr. Kunhikrishnan said. A farmer has to spend a minimum of ₹180 to a plantain, including the rent of land but he would get only ₹140 to ₹150 after the harvest now, he said.

Tessy Jacob, Assistant Agriculture Director, Wayanad, said those farmers who had registered under the Minimum Support Price scheme of the State government and insured their crop would get ₹24 a kg as MSP if they sold their produce through the 14 shops identified by the department for the purpose. As many as 13 shops were put up by the VFPCK and one shop by Horticorp for the purpose, she said.

But P. Paulson, a marginal farmer in Nenmeni grama panchayat, said he had sold 7,083 kg of ‘nendran to the Horticorp at the MSP nine months ago but he was yet to get any money for it. The condition of many farmers in the grama panchayat was not different, he said.

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