Banana prices in South India are likely to stay low due to higher production and competition from other tropical fruits, according to officials of the Tamil Nadu Agricultural University.
India is by far the largest producer of bananas with 300 lakh tonne a year and accounts for 30% of the global output. Most of India’s banana production is for domestic consumption with exports being negligible at less than 1%.
“In Tamil Nadu, banana production is slightly higher than the previous year. Banana prices usually fall every summer when there is arrival of other tropical fruits such as mangoes. Increased production coupled with high temperature has led to cracking of fruits that has forced the farmers to sell the produce immediately during this period,” KM Shivakumar of TNAU told FE.
Major banana cultivating districts are Theni, Trichy, Erode, Thoothukudi,Coimbatore, Kanyakumari, Thanjavur and Dindigul.
Shivakumar added that a whirlwind that destroys the standing crop in March and April was absent this year. Competition from fruits like mangoes tend to depress the market for bananas as the consumption is mostly local. “Exports are negligent when compared to the production and the major market in West Asia. Preferred variety for export is Grand Naine and the top export destinations are Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Oman, the UAE and Kuwait,” he said.
N B Shaikh from Banana Research Station of Mahatma Phule Krishi Vidyapeeth, Maharashtra, said yield from banana cultivation has declined in the state due to two consecutive droughts and farmers in traditional banana producing regions like Jalgaon and Nanded have abstained from farming due to short supply of water. However, new areas have come under banana in Vidarbha and Amravati substituting sugarcane, he added. Shaikh expects the market in Maharashtra to stay firm unlike last season where prices crashed.
As per the first advance estimates of the ministry of agriculture and farmer’s welfare, banana is cultivated in 8.36 lakh hectare with a production of 298.95 lakh tonnes in 2015-16 in India. The major growing states are Maharashtra, Gujarat, Karnataka, Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh and Odisha.
Confederation of Indian Industries (CII) has an ambitious plan to export Indian-grown bananas globally by creating a cold chain infrastructure which will help in avoiding post-harvest loss.