Officials offer suggestions on alternative crops to paddy

Prospects of ‘kuruvai’ crop, preparations for which usually starts in June, seems to be bleak this season in Madurai district owing to scanty rainfall.

Around 9,000 hectares are covered in the ‘kuruvai’ season in Alanganallur, Vadipatti, Madurai East and Madurai West blocks. However, with delayed arrival of the southwest monsoon and with the combined credit in Periyar-Vaigai hovering around the 2,100 mcft mark as on July 2 against the required 4,000 mcft, farmers have very little hope of carrying on agricultural operations.

Agriculture Department officials said that ‘kuruvai’ season had become problematic in this region in the recent years. Failure of rain forced farmers to keep off irrigation activities in 2009-10 and 2010-11. However, in 2011-12, there was enough rain for farmers to have a good harvest. Now, with no signs of monsoon rain till date, officials are examining the modalities of providing power supply to farmers wherever wells situated near the fields. If the TANGEDCO authorities gave electricity supply as a special case for 10 to 12 hours to facilitate well irrigation, ‘kuruvai’ crop may still be possible. “It may look impossible, but it is achievable,” a senior agriculture officer said.

Alternatives

Meanwhile, farmers could also explore the idea of alternative crops to paddy. They could go for crops that require less water, said Assistant Director (Agriculture - Tirupparankundram Block) S. Kanagaraj. He told The Hindu here on Tuesday that pulses such as green gram and black gram fetched good returns. Even after 10 days from now, if the situation remained bleak, farmers could start work on planting an alternative crop. Raising pulses would enrich fertility of the soil and also they were in good demand. The crop could be harvested in about 70 days.

By adopting a new technique, red gram could be grown for which the State government offered subsidies. Farmers in Krishnagiri district had harvested 2.5 tonness per hectare, Mr. Kanagaraj said. Interested farmers could contact the respective blocks to know more about red gram.

More In: Madurai