They were on the verge of harvest at many places
The heavy and unseasonal rainfall this month has caused extensive damage to the samba and thaladi paddy crops in the Cauvery delta region, dampening the spirit of the harvest festival this year.
The rain spells that have been continuing for almost a week now have caused severe lodging in the crops which were on the verge of harvest at many places. The crops have started sprouting on being submerged for more than two or three days, farmers complained.
Although senior officials of the Agriculture Department are wary of putting a figure to the extent of damage, pending a detailed enumeration, initial estimates from the districts indicate that the crop on nearly two lakh hectares have been inundated in the core delta districts, besides Pudukottai and Tiruchi. Severe yield loss is feared due to the inundation.
According to preliminary estimates, paddy on about 51,000 hectares (ha) have been inundated in Tiruvarur district and 90,000 ha in Thanjavur district. In the combined Nagapattinam district (including Mayiladuthurai), crop on about 28,000 ha have lodged. In Pudukottai district, paddy on about 26,000 ha have been water logged. About 2,000 ha of paddy crop was estimated to have been submerged in Tiruchi as on Thursday, but the extent of inundation was likely to be more as the rain was continuing, officials said.
It has been a torrid season of natural vagaries for farmers of the delta. Many farmers who managed to escape the fury of cyclone Burevi, have been affected now. Veteran farmers’ leader and general secretary, Cauvery Delta Farmers Welfare Association, Mannargudi S.Ranganathan said: “Right from the start, the behaviour of monsoon has not been helpful at all. With the first of two cyclones (Nivar and Burevi), triggering fears of heavy rain, the Public Works Department stopped releasing water from Mettur reservoir. For over 15 days, we did not get adequate water for irrigation and the fields dried up. Just as we managed to complete transplantation, came cyclone Burevi drowning large extents of paddy fields. Now the harvest has been hit; we have been at the mercy of nature. I have not witnessed such rain in January in recent years but for such a rare occurrence in 1981.”
Expressing satisfaction over Chief Minister Edappadi K.Palaniswami’s assurance on sanction of compensation for the crop damages, Mr.Ranganathan said that the poor and helpless farmers were banking on relief. He suggested an aerial survey be conducted to assess the extent of water logging and deploying retired agricultural officers to complete the enumeration quickly. “Sanction of compensation under crop insurance scheme should also be done swiftly,” he said.
“It is pathetic that farmers who toiled through the season could not harvest the fully grown crop. Farmers are at their wits end and the Pongal festival had lost its lustre,” said P.R.Pandian,president, Tamizhaga Cauvery Vivasayigal Sangam, calling for sanction of relief by government and award of full compensation under crop insurance to the affected farmers before March.
A senior official of Agriculture department said that the extent of yield loss or damage would be fully known only after the water drains from the paddy field. “A preliminary assessment is under way. Agriculture insurance companies have also been asked to expedite the crop cutting experiments for assessment of yield, so that farmers would also be able to get due compensation at the earliest besides the relief given by government,” he said.
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