This year, tapioca harvest was less than usual due to poor rain during the planting stage and due to the prevailing rains during the last few weeks. It resulted in a drop in the starch content in tapioca tubers. Due to this, the tuber is bought for a low price from farmers for producing sago. While this has disappointed farmers, demand for these tubers in Kerala has helped them fetch a better price.
“This year, farmers of the district have witnessed poor tapioca harvest for the second successive year. While the area under tapioca cultivation has drastically reduced in 2013, compared to 2012, the volume of tapioca harvested in the fields also came down by more than 60 per cent,” says farmer R. Chandrasekaran of Kalkurichi, near Rasipuram.
He recalled that the seven acres of land on which he cultivated tapioca used to yield about 200 to 250 bags (75 kg per bag) of tapioca, per acre. “This has reduced to 80 bags an acre primarily because of unavailability of rain and inadequate water during the early stage of the plant’s life. The same reason is also reflected in drop in starch content,” he said.
“A bag of tapioca is purchased for Rs. 900 by traders in Kerala where it is boiled and consumed and is used for making chips. Earlier, the price at which tapioca was purchased for Kerala and making sago in Tamil Nadu was the same. But this year, we are getting a better price from Kerala due to the heavy drop in harvest of the tuber,” farmer R. Thiagarajan (65) of Eechampatti added.
“While the demand for our produce is fetching a better price in Kerala, it is not possible to send the entire produce,” farmers said and added that they have to sell it for sago production at a lesser price.