The Tamil Nadu Hill Banana Growers’ Federation

Written by Shaker Nagarajan

Introduction:

Hill banana is a popular cultivar in the hills of Tamil Nadu, especially in the lower Pulney's. The cultivar is robust and can withstand drought and is thus grown as a shade tree for coffee. The fruits are a delicacy and find a ready market, ensuring weekly income for the grower. With the spreading of the bunchy top disease, it was feared that the grower will lose his income and the banana would get extinct. To conserve the hill banana, the growers got together and formed the Tamil Nadu Hill Banana Growers' Federation.

Incorporation:

The Tamil Nadu Hill Banana Growers' Federation (TNHBGF) was officially registered as a society under the Tamil Nadu Registration of Societies Act, 1975 on 28th September 2006.

Membership:

Membership is open to all hill banana growers with a condition that they should not have any bunchy top affected clumps and that affected clumps have to be removed as and when the disease is noticed.

Nineteen villages are represented in the Federation with a total membership of two hundred and eighty banana growers.

Management and Administration:

A committee manages the Federation. Each village has a representative on the committee who in turn elects a president, a vice-president, and a secretary. Meetings are held in each village by rotation.

Objectives:

The main objectives of the Federation are to safeguard the interests of its members and to conserve the hill banana.

Achievements of the Federation:

The hill banana, which was on the endangered list and was fast approaching extinction, has been revived. This was made possible by the timely removal of bunchy top affect clumps by the farmers, and by providing disease free planting material. The support of the scientists from National Research Centre for Banana, Trichy and the Tamil Nadu Agricultural University has, over the years, been overwhelming. The scientists continue to visit famers' fields and layout several trials.

The area under hill banana is increasing. In the last five years, the area under cultivation has increased by over two thousand acres. As a result the production and the fruits coming into the market have increased.

With the formation of the Federation, the members are able to get a better and a fair price. There are no more involvements of commission agents and brokers. Direct marketing to retailers and supermarkets in addition to the village shandies has been established. With the remunerative prices, more farmers are returning to hill banana cultivation, and this is a global sign

The TNHBGF has successfully got Geographical Indications registration for Virupakshi banana and Sirumalai banana in December 2008.

Conclusion:

The hill banana growers of these rural and tribal areas have realized that unity is strength, and want the TNHBGF to grow stronger. Their immediate aim is to have a reefer truck to take their produce to the market. They also wish to have their own tissue culture lab and ultimately have their own marketing outlet in a nearby city. Knowing their toughness, they will succeed.