Where have all the cattle gone?

Cattle growers and traders are disappointed over the continued closure of the weekly cattle shandy at Manapparai even after resumption of inter-district bus and train services and easing of lockdown restrictions.

The Manapparai shandy is one of the major cattle trading centres. It attracts cattle rearers, traders and buyers from different parts of the State, Kerala, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana and Puducherry. Since it is the only major shandy that deals with different varieties cattle, it is a favourite market for both buyers and sellers. About 10,000 traders visit it every week.

The shandy meets from 3 p.m. on Tuesdays to 11 a.m. on Wednesdays and transacts business to the tune of ₹5 crore a week. About 25,000 to 30,000 milch animals, animals for meat, and bulls for ploughing and jallikattu are brought for sales every week.

The shandy, which is under the control of Manapparai municipality, remains closed since the third week of March following the imposition of a nationwide lockdown in the wake of COVID-19 pandemic. Without the arrival of cattle, the busy shandy now looks deserted.

The relaxations on public transport such as bus and rail and e-pass and permission to operate industries and offices with 100% workers and employees have raised expectations among traders and farmers that the Manapparai shandy will assemble on Tuesday after a gap of more than five months.

Officials say the government has not given permission to re-open it.

“Cattle rearing and dairying are the important aspects of rural economy. But the chain has been broken with the closure of cattle shandies in the State for close to six months. Farmers have been hit hard,” says N. Ponnusamy, a cattle trader in Manapparai.

Pointing to resumption of bus and train transport, farmers say people and commuters have begun travelling in large numbers to cities, towns and villages. The cattle shandies too should be allowed to resume business by applying the same yardstick.

“The shandy at Manapparai will attract a large number of buyers and sellers from different States if it is allowed to function,” Collector S. Sivarasu told The Hindu.

Many aspects have to be analysed while allowing resumption of the shandy. No shandy in the State has so far been given permission to reopen. However, the demand of farmers and traders has been taken to the notice of the government, he said.

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