Association says they should not have gone for summer paddy

“Even if the southwest monsoon were to be normal (as predicted by various agencies), I would appeal farmers to exercise abundant caution before going in for kuruvai. Even to think of kuruvai at this stage, without observing the behaviour of monsoon, would be a monumental mistake as most of the farmers have already burnt their fingers ( last year). I would prefer direct sowing to planting,” observes Mannargudi S. Ranganathan, general secretary, Cauvery Delta Farmers’ Welfare Association.

Talking to The Hindu on Friday, he was categorical that the farmers should not have gone in for summer paddy, in the new delta area, especially when groundwater level is plummeting. However, they have raised summer paddy in about 25,000 acres. “This is not a standard practice and they should have opted for pulses which require far less water.”

He pointed out that farmers used to try summer paddy by January end-February, immediately after samba harvest, depending upon the residual moisture, and harvest it before June. This year the situation had been totally different. In some areas the harvest went on even up to March and hence it was totally unadvisable to go in for summer paddy. “Power supply has also not been supportive. It is high time that agriculture department and Tamil Nadu Agriculture University advises farmers on what to do in the current circumstances,” he added.

Mr. Rangnathan says Tamil Nadu should be prepared to face several contingencies and uncertainties this year. “There is absolutely no water in the Mettur dam, unprecedented in the last 40 years. Even assuming the monsoon is normal; Mettur is unlikely to get water unless all the reservoirs in the Cauvery basin in Karnataka are full. Even after that it is imperative that Mettur storage should go up to a substantial level before water is released for irrigation in the delta region.”

While pleading that the “meticulously written Tribunal Award” should be properly highlighted, he observes that the moot point is who is going to monitor the release of water from Karnataka to Tamil Nadu. This is precisely why a Cauvery Management Board and a Cauvery Water Regulation Committee should be constituted at the earliest.

The Cauvery was so parched and the aquifers empty, it would take quite sometime for the water to reach the delta even if all these hurdles were crossed.

Mr.Ranganathan, who has been a champion of direct sowing since 1987, once again batted for direct sowing. “It is this method that has saved the crops even last season when drought has been at its worst. I still believe that it would be the ideal one for the ensuing season too.”

Even for that, it is essential to plough the fields for which a few showers are a must. “We had three spells of rain during March. I hope that we received a couple of more spells for ploughing itself.”

He wants the delta farmers to go in for short duration (105 day crop) varieties.