Wednesday, 27 May 2015

Banana growers explore new export markets

Having tapped the market in Gulf countries, banana growers of Chinnamanur have ambitious plans to tap the highly-potential banana market in the United States and European Union countries.

Initially, they reached out to the Gulf market with ‘Aroma Banana,’ the best quality branded fruit with uniform size, colour and high sweetness, superior to the banana varieties produced in Ecuador and The Philippines.

Now, they have sent one container load in two days to Gulf countries and Turkey. About 240 tonnes have been shipped so far, fetching a foreign exchange of around Rs.1 crore. They have accomplished this feat in two months through John Penny Cuick Farmers’ Trust, an association formed by banana growers.

“Additional facility will help us ship three 20-tonne containers a day,” says M. Karthikeyan, an M. Tech graduate with marketing experience in the US, looking after the exports.“Our fruit’s shelflife is 30 to 45 days. Sweet content is 18 per cent, whereas Ecuador banana has 13.5 to 14 per cent. Now, 453 member-farmers produce banana in 5,600 acres and supply it to us. Banana is being raised in 12,000 hectares in Cumbum Valley. We plan to enlighten all farmers to produce export quality banana. There should be no black spots on peel and no damage on fruit. Acute care is essential while plucking,” he added. Local buyers procure banana for Rs. 4 a kg that does not meet even the production cost.

“We need at least Rs. 6 a kg. Now, the association offers a price of Rs. 8 a kg. They pay even Rs. 10 for superior quality banana,” said Veppampatti farmer P. Paul Durai. “Payment is irregular with local buyers. They harvest fruits after 13 months and demand 90 per cent of growth. But the association cuts fruits in 11 months when they attain 75 per cent growth,” says, Chinnamanur farmer N. Perumal.

Farmers have appealed to the officials to open the 500-tonne capacity ripening chamber-cum-cold storage facility waiting for inauguration on Chinnamanur agri marketing committee campus.

Collector N. Venkatachalam assured to create more infrastructure facilities. “Chinnamanur will soon be a banana export hub. Now, 12 private ripening chambers function in Cumbum Valley,” says S. Muthiah, Deputy Director of Agriculture (Agri Business).

Source : The Hindu

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