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States » South

Acute shortage of skilled labour hits sugarcane harvesting in Kerala

Idukki, Jul 3 (UNI) Acute shortage of skilled labour, mostly from Tamil Nadu, has hit harvesting of sugarcane in Marayur since April and production of famed jaggery that flaunts the Geographical Indication tag.
Sugarcane is cultivated in over 600 hectares of land in Marayur and Kanthallur villages for producing jaggery.
The labourers have stopped coming since the lock down, according to Selvin Mariyappan, a farmer and chief of Marayur Hills Agriculture Development Society, one of the three authorised agencies to market Marayur jaggery.
The harvesting is done in rotation in the farms which ensures that there is jaggery production throughout the year. But the crisis has hit the rotating system and farms that were to be harvested in April still remain untouched.
Once overgrown, sugarcane will not yield the juice required to make the jaggery. From April, the production per week has dropped from 14 tonnes to below four tonnes. Recent rains have done further damage.
The price of jaggery has also dropped and is around Rs 65 per kg now. "It does not fetch much profit", a farmer said.
At present it was not advisable to seek labour from Tamil Nadu. If the production of Marayur jaggery drops, replacements arriving from Tamil Nadu could be marketed as 'Marayur jaggery', Marayur Agriculture Officer Priya Peter said.
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1500 families affected as English Indian Clays faces shortage

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