Coconut growers in and around Batlagundu and surrounding region have not been able to move their produce to markets in Mumbai. As a result, the coconuts were stagnating in wholesale mandis and in coconut farms here giving anxious moments to the growers and vendors.
At a time, when the growers were trying to come out of the Cyclone Gaja and looked for some returns, the exorbitant lorry freight to destinations in Maharashtra came a big blow.
According to Mani, a coconut grower, during this period of the year, a minimum of 30 to 40 trucks would be moving from here to different parts of Maharashtra. Suddenly, the market men in Mumbai stopped procurement and turned to markets in Andhra Pradesh as the freight was more affordable.
For instance, the freight to Mumbai from Batlagundu was anywhere between ₹30,000 and ₹ 40,000, while it was ₹10,000 from Andhra Pradesh to Mumbai, he said and added that though the quality of coconut was good, the merchants were concerned about booking profits than selling good quality coconut, he claimed.
Another coconut grower Ramesh, who has about 10 acres of land here that he would pluck close to 5,000 numbers during this season and sell close to 3,000 pieces to Mumbai. “The sudden decision to change the market by our buyers had forced us to look at different markets...” he added.
Interestingly, coconut growers in Batlagundu sold their produce to wholesale markets such as Mumbai, while growers from Natham marketed their goods to retail vendors in and around Madurai, Tiruchi and Virudhunagar.
The number of coconuts piled up here has caused concern among the farmers. However, there is some good news for them as the copra is in demand in Kangeyam. It has been moving steadily through trucks.
The oil mills in and around Erode district procured copra in bulk quantities from the farms here, said Kasinathan, a truck operator.
When asked why was the freight cost to Mumbai risen so much as claimed by the coconut growers and merchants in Mumbai, the truck operator said that during this time of the year, the trucks get piled up in Maharashtra and getting return consignment to a city in Tamil Nadu would take more than three days.
The waiting time in Maharashtra would also be long for getting a booking to a city of the truck operator’s choice. Hence, they fixed higher rents to go to Mumbai. Moreover, the cost incurred at toll plazas too were very high that the margins would be meagre.