The intermittent and unseasonal rain has dealt a severe blow to the business of seasonal traders of sugarcane stalks and turmeric leaves.
The sellers usually set up temporary stalls on street corners and thickly populated areas to sell edible sugarcane, turmeric and puja items at least two days prior to Pongal.
Not many traders preferred to turn up this year due to rain battering different parts of the district for the last one week. Sugarcane was sold mainly at the vegetable markets and farmers markets. There were, however, a small section of farmers and seasonal traders, who set up stalls in thickly populated places to cash in on the demand.
Residents in need of essential ingredients to make Pongal and perform pujas in their homes turned up in large numbers. The traders had sourced sugarcane, mostly from Thiruvalarcholai on Tiruchi-Kallanai Road and Thirukattupalli in Thanjavur district.
Medium size sugarcane stalks were sold at ₹ 80 a pair at Uzhavar Sandhai in Thennur. It was sold at ₹ 100 a pair at Bheema Nagar. It was ₹ 20 more than the last year. A bunch of turmeric leaves was priced at ₹ 50. Traders attribute the price rise to transport and sharp rise in overhead expenses.
“There is no short supply of sugarcane this year. But, the overhead and transport cost has gone up sharply. So, prices have gone up by ₹ 20 to ₹ 30 a pair when compared to last year,” says K. Shanmugan, a seasonal trader on Heber Road.
He said that the sale was dull this year. Nearly 70% of the total sale would happen on the previous day of the Pongal. But, only around 50% of the stock had been cleared. The rain forced many residents to remain indoors. If the same trend continued on Pongal day, traders would have to end up with loss this year, he said.