- Think of turmeric, and the first thing that would come to the mind in this part of the country is the bright yellow coloured Erode Manjal (turmeric).
- Erode is the second largest turmeric market in India, next to Nizamabad in Telangana. The city is nicknamed ‘ManjalMaanagaram’ (turmeric city).
- Turmeric is one of the most important spices with medicinal properties.
- The Atharvaveda mentions it as a cure for jaundice. The commodity was traded even during the Chera, Chola and Pandya eras.
- Erode, a taluk in Coimbatore district until 1979, finds a mention in the Gazetteer of South India (1901-1906).
- It says turmeric was one of the chief ‘exports’ from Coimbatore to the neighbouring districts.
- Also, in Posselt’s Textile Journal (February 1917), it was mentioned that turmeric was widely cultivated in Erode in the Madras Presidency.
There are four turmeric markets in Erode district —
- Agricultural Producers Cooperative Marketing Society Limited in Gobichettipalayam (1928);
- the Regulated Market in Erode (established in 1954);
- Erode (1960); and
- Perundurai (1962).
The Regulated Market in Erode functions in the Turmeric Market Complex owned by Erode Turmeric Merchants and Godown Owners’ Association. It is one of the busiest markets in the country.
- “During the 1950s, trading was unorganised and was carried out from a small place on Park Road in the town. In 1954, a turmeric association was started, and traders used to visit each of the 10 to 20 shops for auctioning,” says V.K. Rajamanickam, former secretary of the association and now president of the Federation of All Trade and Industry Associations of Erode (FATIA).
- Later, because of lack of space and traffic congestion, the association moved to a 52-acre campus at Semmampalayam on Nasiyanur Road that has godowns.
- Members encouraged farmers in the State and in south Karnataka to cultivate turmeric and helped to improve the arrival at the market.
- “Members and commission agents gave financial support to farmers for cultivating turmeric and sinking bore-wells, besides for marriages in their families,” says M. Sathyamurthy, secretary of the association.
- During the season from February to June, 8,000 bags (80 kg each) of turmeric arrive at the market, while about 3,000 bags come in during the off-season, he says.
- “Turmeric fetched an all-time high price of ₹17,000 a quintal in 2010,” he recalls, “and the current rate is ₹5,500-₹7,000 a quintal.” The association was the first to move to computerised auctioning.
- Initially, turmeric was cultivated only in the Kalingarayan ayacut areas covering less than 8,000 acres.
- After the Lower Bhavani Project Canal was commissioned, the area under cultivation increased to over 20,000 acres in the district. In 2005-06, turmeric was grown on 21,216 acres (with a yield of 61,813 metric tonnes).
- The area increased to 35,333 acres in 2010-11 (with a production of 92,564 metric tonnes). It dipped to 10,081 acres in 2021-22 (25,400 metric tonnes).
- Farmers place their samples by 9 a.m. on the tables at the auctioning centre in the Turmeric Market Complex. Buyers break the roots to test the colour and freshness of the turmeric and quote the price in the app. Traders from across the country bid online.
- At 11 a.m. every day, the highest bidder for each lot is announced. If the price is right, farmers sell their produce. “There is no compulsion on a farmer to close the deal, if he feels the price is not the best
- “The market is always crowded, and we compete to buy the best turmeric that is available,” says T. Nikil, an exporter.
- A minimum of 100 samples is available every day to choose from. Farmers from various districts, and even from Karnataka, sell their produce at the Erode markets as they get the best price. Eswarappa from Mandya district in Karnataka says sales are transparent and a transaction is done in less than three hours.
- “We get the best price regularly and we always prefer the Erode markets.”
- The turmeric markets in Erode not only boost the local economy but also provide jobs to thousands of workers like loaders and vehicle operators. “Throughout the year, we get jobs,” says P. Murugan, a loader.
- India is the largest producer, consumer and exporter of turmeric and Erode accounts for over 40% of the total sales in the country.
- The Erode turmeric obtained the Geographical Indication (GI) tag from the Geographical Indication Registry in 2019 and accounts for 70%-75% of the turmeric grown in Erode and Coimbatore districts.
- At the fourth edition of PonManjal-CII turmeric conclave 2022 held recently, Collector H. Krishnanunni said the economy of Erode district could get a boost if value addition from turmeric was done properly by all stakeholders.
- He said the administration would continue its efforts at sustaining the leadership of the district in turmeric production and value addition.
- A turmeric export centre will be established in the district shortly. The State government has established a turmeric research station at Bhavanisagar to improve the varieties with a high curcumin content.
- But a significant drop in the area under cultivation; lowering of the quality with the use of pesticides and chemicals for storage; the high cost of labour; and a long period of storage in anticipation of a higher price can hurt the market in the long run.
SOURCE: THE HINDU, THE ECONOMIC TIMES, PIB