Farmers say continued closure makes them sell cattle for pittance

Farmers’ representatives have called for the reopening of the cattle shandies that have remained closed since mid-November in various parts of the central districts following an outbreak of foot and mouth disease in the State.

The unprecedented decision to suspend the shandies was taken by the authorities to mitigate the spread of FMD through trading activities and transportation, and also to prevent farmers from buying infected animals that may be brought from other districts.

This step also helped to prevent gullible farmers from falling prey to machinations of broker trying to sell off afflicted animals in the shandies at a low price threatening other animals in the district.

As the disease spread to Pudukottai, Tiruchi, Ariyalur and Karur districts, though the government had launched vaccination of cattle population on a war footing, the decision to shut the shandies was widely welcomed by the farmers as it helped contain the disease.

However, the continued closure of the shandies is proving to be a handicap to the farming community in selling and buying cattle at a time when the agriculturists were facing severe drought.

“No doubt, the suspension of the shandies proved a right and effective step in checking the spread of this disease. But, with the central districts reeling under severe drought conditions, fodder and water for cattle is fast becoming scarce. With the failure of crop, the farmers and the farm workers are facing severe financial crunch. To make both the ends meet, they are forced to sell the cattle, says G.S. Dhanapathy, district chairman of the Farmers Forum of India, Pudukottai.

As the cattle shandies have been closed for a long time, the farmers are selling their cattle for a pittance. This situation is being exploited by greedy brokers, he said.

Thanks to the effective steps taken by the government, the incidence of FMD is under total control at present. As teams of veterinary medical officers are having a close watch on the situation the government should consider opening of the shandies, Mr. Dhanapathy pleaded.

Endorsing the view, A. Nagarajan, president, Horticulture Crop Producers Association, says that the disease had been controlled to a great extent in the Tiruchi district. Hence the shandies should be reopened to facilitate farmers sell or purchase cattle.