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Regular-article-logo Thursday, 29 February 2024

Pandemic hits banana market in Goalpara

Though it has not been estimated yet, the impact of the lockdown is likely to run into several crores of rupees

Sofikul Ahmed Goalpara Published 21.04.20, 08:02 PM
Assam agriculture minister Atul Bora checks the quality of bananas  at Daranggiri village on Monday.

Assam agriculture minister Atul Bora checks the quality of bananas at Daranggiri village on Monday. (AP)

Among the worst-hit agricultural market during the second phase of the ongoing lockdown is Assam’s Daranggiri banana market in Goalpara district.

Nearly 99km from Guwahati city along National Highway 17 and spread over 3,700 hectares of land, it is dubbed Asia’s largest banana market.

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Though it has not been estimated yet, the impact of the lockdown is likely to run into several crores of rupees.

“During the first phase of the lockdown, bananas were damaged or rotted in the gardens. At that time, every farmer incurred losses at an average of Rs 1 lakh and there are about 7,000 farmers associated with the Daranggiri market. However, we are now supplying the produce to the markets of Hojai and Mangaldoi through the permitted essential goods trucks. Normally, we sell a bunch for Rs 300 to Rs 400 to buyers from outside the state during peak time. But now, in the second phase of the lockdown, we are selling a bunch for Rs 50 to Rs 80, something like a distress sale,” said Bipul Rabha, a banana farmer from Dhupdhara Bethanipara.

Several other farmers, like Dipankar Rabha of Kosubari with a 52-bigha garden, Karna Khaklary of Jyotigaon and Utpal Ray of Tamulbari with 40-bigha gardens each, and Nataraj Khaklary, with a 25-bigha garden, are facing similar problems.

On Monday, Assam agriculture minister Atul Bora, on his way to Goalpara district, visited the Daranggiri banana market and took stock of the situation.

Later, while interacting with mediapersons, he said, “The Daranggiri market produces about 40,000 metric tonnes of bananas. Nearly 7,000 farmers are associated with this market. The problem is that there is no market for banana at this moment. Moreover, some districts have refused to accept the agricultural produce from the Covid-19 affected districts. The Goalpara district administration has contacted markets like Azad market of New Delhi. Several buyers from Bihar, Jharkhand are camping here. Goods trains are also coming to the state. So, we will come up with all positive steps.”

The two local varieties of bananas — Malbhog and Chenichampa — are supplied from here to states like Bengal, Bihar, Jharkhand, Odisha and parts of Uttar Pradesh.

In 2019, with the initiative of the Assam agriculture department, it was even exported to Dubai.

Daranggiri bananas are also exported to Bhutan, Nepal and Bangladesh with a monthly turnover of Rs 4 crore during September-October.

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