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jaggery production A report : Kavingnar Thanigai

Cane farmers take to jaggery production

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They have stopped supplying to mills owing to delayed payments

At a time when sugarcane farmers all over the State are protesting delayed payments by sugar mills — cooperative and private — and demanding increase in the price of sugarcane, those of Kavasambattu village in K.V. Kuppam panchayat union in Vellore district have been engaged in jaggery production for two generations.

S. Sivakumar (42), a sugarcane farmer of Kavasambattu, told this correspondent that while there about 40 sugarcane farmers in the village, none of them supply cane to sugar mills for the last several years owing to the problems such as delayed payments and un-remunerative price. “Our family has been engaged in jaggery production from my father’s period. My grandfather was supplying to the mills, but for the last two generations, we are engaged in production of jaggery which is profitable”, he said.

Mr. Sivakumar said that the farmers of this village produce jaggery not only from the sugarcane from their own fields, but also from those procured from Dharmapuri, Tiruvannamalai and Kallakurichi. “We produce about 200 kg of jaggery per day. The cauldron that I have can produce 50 kg of jaggery at a time. I boil the sugarcane four times a day to obtain 200 kg”, he said. Depending on the availability of sugarcane, he produces about 1.5 tonnes to two tonnes of jaggery per week and sells it to the wholesale jaggery mundy in Vellore.

Quite a few of the farmers, such as Ravi, have joined as workers in the jaggery units of their fellow farmers in the village owing to the decline in agriculture on account of water scarcity. Workers get low wages compared to the toil in the jaggery unit. “I sweat it out from 4 a.m. to 4 p.m. daily in the jaggery unit, mixing the simmering hot sugarcane juice in the cauldron and later making jaggery balls, but I get only Rs.200 per day”, said Venkatesan, a worker. But, he does not complain since he knows that the farmer did not get a steady price. The price of jaggery in the Vellore market declined from Rs.420 per 10 kg last week to Rs.350 today, he said.

R. Velmurugan, a farmer of Kavasambattu, said though he produces jaggery in his unit, he does not sell it in the wholesale market, but sells the excess jaggery to fellow farmers in his village and in the retail outlet run by his wife — a functionary of a women’s self-help groupMr. Velmurugan, who is also the secretary (development) of the Vellore unit of Tamil Nadu Science Forum, said the government should encourage farmers to tap solar energy or use biogas for burning the cauldron in order to make the process eco-friendly.

thanks: The Hindu :08.01.15 report



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