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Updated: November 6, 2013 12:01 IST

Monsoon plays hide and seek, non-delta area farmers worried

S. Ganesan
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The rainfall in northeast monsoon has been below normal in October

With Tiruchi district recording below normal rainfall under the northeast monsoon (October-December) so far this year, farmers in non-delta areas of the district are keeping their fingers crossed over the prospect of the samba paddy crop.

Although samba paddy cultivation was taken up in full swing in the canal-irrigated delta areas of the district after the release of water from Mettur Reservoir, several farmers in the non-delta (rain-fed) areas are awaiting rains to take up paddy cultivation.

The Agriculture Department had targeted to cover about 67,000 hectares of land under samba paddy in the district this year.

Of this, nearly 36,000 hectares of land were in the delta area and 31,000 hectares of land in the non-delta area. According to sources in the department, samba paddy had been transplanted in about 35,000 hectares of land in the delta areas of the district. But in the non-delta areas, transplantation had been done in about 6,000 hectares. Officials were hopeful that the targeted area in the non-delta region would be covered before the end of this month. If the northeast monsoon had been good, the paddy transplantation should have been completed in the non-delta areas too.

According to figures available at the website of the Regional Meteorological Centre, Chennai, there had been 50 per cent deficit in rainfall under the northeast monsoon in the district this year so far. Between October 1 and 30, the district had recorded 85.5 mm of rainfall against the normal average of 170.2 mm for the period.

Farmers say the rain received so far had been too scattered and inadequate. “Whatever rain we had received so far has not been enough to improve the water table or bring any substantial flow to the tanks. Farmers in Marungapuri, Manapparai, Vaiyampatti, Thottiyam, Thuraiyur, and Uppilliyapuram areas are unable to take up paddy cultivation so far. Most of these farmers had lost the samba crop because of the monsoon failure last year too. The situation is a cause for worry and the State government should take note of it,” said Ayilai Sivasuriyan, district secretary of the CPI-affiliated Tamil Nadu Vivasayigal Sangam.

The dry spell has been broken by the slight showers and overcast condition that prevailed across the district over the past couple of days. “But, the rain has been too light. We hope there will be some good rain in the next few days. Unless, the water level goes up in the wells farmers cannot go for paddy cultivation,” says P. Ayyakannu, State vice-president, Bharathiya Kisan Sangam.

In some places, there has been no change in the situation since the last monsoon failure, he says.

The scattered rain so far, however, has helped cotton and maize crops. “Maize and cotton crops have survived so far. But we need some good rain to bring in water to the tanks and wells. Even if there were to be some good rain over the next 10 days, farmers will be able to take up paddy cultivation,” he says.

The area under both cotton and maize crops have gone up substantially in the rain-fed areas of the district this year. While the area under maize had almost doubled to cross 9,000 hectares of land in the district against 4,800 hectares covered last year, cotton had been raised in about 14,800 hectares of land against the normal of about 11,000 hectares of land.

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