Trichy: The government’s inclusion of one whole sugarcane instead of the customary one piece in the Pongal gift hamper has come as a boon for cane farmers this year. Since it is raining in most parts of the state, farmers said bulk procurement of their produce by the cooperative department for the gift hamper has helped them avert possible losses.
Meanwhile, a section of them have appealed to the government to fix the price at Rs 20 per cane which will only be reasonable. Pongal cane is cultivated in parts of Trichy, Thanjavur, Tiruvarur and Pudukottai districts. In Pudukottai alone, farmers have cultivated sugarcane in about 3,000 acres this year. Altogether farmers take up cane cultivation in around 7,000 acres in the central region.
Usually, they sell the sugarcane in the open market. Till last year, a piece of cane was distributed to ration cardholders along with gift bag, which means one whole cane was shared among three cardholders. In all, 32.45 lakh sugarcanes will be procured to distribute to cardholders in the central region. With cooperative department officials procuring canes from farmers at their field, the government’s initiative has helped many cane farmers, said the Tiruvarur district secretary of Tamil Nadu Vivasayigal Sangam affiliated to CPI, P S Masilamani.
P Sugumaran, a farmer from Tiruvaiyaru in Thanjavur district said cane farmers incurred heavy loss since the crop was cultivated in huge areas last year and they could not get a reasonable price. “Unlike last year, the area of cane cultivation is less this year. Had it not rained, farmers would have made more profit. Intermittent rain shattered their hopes forcing them to grab the opportunity offered by the government,” he opined.
V Jayabal, a cane farmer from Thiruvalarsolai in Trichy, said they usually sell sugarcane for Rs 18 to Rs 20 to private traders. But the government offered only Rs 15 per cane. By this time last year, he had sold the entire produce cultivated on two acres, which was not the case this year, he said.
“No trader approached me to procure canes and rain is the main reason for the situation. So, instead of throwing the canes in the garbage, I preferred to sell my produce to the cooperative department. No profit and no loss for me,” Jayabal added.