Gorakhpur, Dec.1 : A large number of farmers in Gorakhpur, who were traditionally engaged in sugarcane cultivation in the Uttar Pradesh province, have taken to banana farming for better returns.
This region, which was once known for sugarcane cultivation, is today largely covered with lush green banana plantations, covering large swaths of land.
Peasants here find banana crops more suitable, as it involves less financial investments and also lesser hassles than sugarcane cultivation requires.
But it is not just monetary gains, which has turned them off from sugarcane cultivation. The peasants traditionally involved in sugarcane cultivation have been facing tough time because of the closure of many sugar mills in the region.
Moreover, the farmers are not getting payments for their produce in time.
"We have stopped cultivation of sugarcanes because of the closure of sugar mills of the area. The money that we invested in that cultivation is still blocked," said Gulab, one of the farmers.
The situation, however, is different in case of banana farming, as peasants do not have to reach out to buyers who themselves come to them for yields.
"To cultivate banana we invest around rupees 20 to 25 per acre annually and the returns we get is about 45 to 50 rupees. The traders come to the fields to purchase the crop contrary to sugarcanes, which we had to transport to the mills. We also get money for our produce immediately," said Sanjiv Kumar, banana farmer.
With more and more farmers opting for banana cultivation, acreage under sugarcane has dwindled in recent times.
"People are taking up banana cultivation on large scale with thousands of acres coming under its cultivation. So far as I am concerned I am cultivating it in 15 acres of my land," said Vijay Rai, another banana farmer.
In recent years many State-run sugar mills in the region have shut down due to outdated machinery. Most of the mills were set up during the British colonial India and have not been renovated since then. The mills were leading margin of profit into negatives and were not even able to recover the cost of inputs for past several years. By Pawan Shah