By Joymala Bagchi
Lakhimpur Kheri (Uttar Pradesh) [India], February 22 (ANI): Several sugarcane farmers in Uttar Pradesh are shifting to the banana plantation. Farmers are taking to the banana plantation after facing payment delays and rising input costs in sugarcane cultivation.
More than 35 lakh farmers roughly are stated to be engaged in sugarcane cultivation. However, the farmers after opting for banana cultivation noted satisfaction with the profit margins.
In the Lakhimpur Kheri district, nearly 1,000 acres (405 hectares) of land is under banana cultivation that yields two types of bananas G9 and Cadila.
At present, the state is engaged in more than 68000 hectares of banana cultivation and every year produces more than 30 metric tonnes of bananas.
Lakhimpur Kheri leads in banana production, which is followed by Kushinagar, Maharajganj, Allahabad and Kaushambi.
The cost of fertilizers for sugarcane is around Rs 5,000 per acre, said the farmers, adding that the cost of banana plant cultivation is Rs 15,000 per annum but the profit is much more.
Moreover, the sugarcane farmers who took a loan or somehow arranged money for sugarcane told ANI that they had to wait for a year or more for their payments of even Rs 25,000, making survival difficult. Hence, banana becomes the only option for them where the result and profit are immediate, said the farmers.
Bhuwan Kumar, "How can we survive like this? All the struggle and then waiting for meagre payment of Rs 35,000 for months. This makes our survival difficult."
Sone Lal, who shifted from sugarcane to banana farming, said, "Sugarcane's only issue is delayed payments. Hence, banana becomes the only option for us where the result and profit are immediate."
The Lakhimpur Kheri villages Semeisa, Persia, Lakhun, Amitiya, Behta have turned into a hub of banana plant cultivation. Also, Sesaiya, Shnkarpur and more than 35 villages are shifting from sugarcane to the banana plantation.
The farmers told ANI that it seems within a year more than 100 villages will get into a full-fledged banana plantation.
But interestingly due to this fast shift in banana plantations the sugarcane mills have started clearing the long-pending dues of the sugarcane farmers.
Pramod Kumar, earlier a sugarcane farmer, who launched a successful Start-up of banana fiber said, "I have started this since last year. Our BDO Arun Kumar Singh introduced us to the idea and helped us in getting the machines from Gujarat which cost Rs 2 lakhs."
At present Pramod is also engaging women of Samaisa through the "Ma Saraswati self-help group (SHG)" in making the banana fibre through the stem. Also, the women get a share of the profit margin, he added.
"Women get Rs 300 each and also at times they get a share of profit which varies around Rs 400 to 500 per kg. The cost of producing per kg fibre is Rs 100 to 110 and is sold for Rs 180 to 200 per kg. The fibre amounts to Rs 20,000 per quintal," said Kumar.
He gets the order from all over India, mostly through online mode.
Each banana tree yielded about 100 grams of fibre, which can be extracted in 20 minutes.
In the month of October last year, Lakhimpur Kheri had sent 20 metric tonnes of bananas to Iran.
The district will go for polling on February 23. (ANI)