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Pongal sugarcane procurement begins in Madurai

Madurai: The harvesting of ‘senkarumbu’ or Pongal karumbu has commenced in Madurai after Tamil Nadu Civil Supplies Corporation started procuring the sugarcane for inclusion in the Pongal gift hamper to be distributed through PDS shops. The corporation would procure as many as 7.67 lakh sugarcanes to be distributed to ration card holders in the district.

Officials said the government has fixed Rs 33 per cane as procurement price and it should be at least six feet long without damages. The procurement rate also includes transportation and cutting charges. “We have started procurement of sugarcane as directed by the government and each card holder will be provided one sugarcane,” said Joint Registrar of Cooperative Societies S Gurumurthy.

Senkarumbu is an annual crop harvested only during the end of the Tamil month of Margazhi for Pongal mostly in Madurai East, Melur and Thirumangalam areas. A farmer shells out Rs 70,000 per acre to raise the crop and if they don’t get at least Rs 1 lakh per acre as return, they won’t be breaking even, said a farmer from Chinnamangulam. The rate the government provides is not sufficient but not all farmers would get competitive bidding from traders too, he said. A farmer is likely to get Rs 27 per sugarcane while the traders who have started camping in Melur region would pay Rs 30 per cane.

The unexpected floods in Tirunelveli and Tuticorin districts are likely to have an impact on procurement, say farmers. The traders coming from southern Tamil Nadu offer competitive pricing, they added.

Though districts like Erode and Tirupur cultivate most of the sugarcane, traders prefer the one cultivated in Madurai because of its taste. The traders flock to Melur and surrounding areas where this type of sugarcane is cultivated. The sugarcanes is transported to Mumbai from where they are shipped to north India and abroad. “There is a huge demand in north India for sugarcane,” said S Nizamuddin, a Madurai trader.

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