Assessment of drought-affected areas and losses to paddy crops, following failure of northeast monsoon, would begin on January 1, said Collector K. Nanathakumar, while responding to farmers’ demand for compensation at the farmers’ grievance day here on Friday.

When a farmer displayed a bunch of withered crop brought from his field, the Collector said he was aware of the situation and assured to do the needful after an assessment of affected areas. About one lakh farmers had insured their crops this season, the maximum in the district after 2008, the Collector said and ruled out extension of date for payment of premium for non-loanee farmers beyond December 15. They could pay the premium till December 31, he said.

He announced that for non loanee farmers engaged in chilli cultivation, the last date for paying premium would be January 15 and for loanee farmers, March 31. For small and marginal farmers, the premium would be Rs. 571 per hectare (non loanee) and Rs. 635 per hectare (for loanee). For big farmers, the premium would be Rs. 635 per hectare (for both loanee and non-loanees).

Referring to the delay in payment of compensation for insured crops last year, he said that it was due to non disbursement of funds by the National Agriculture Insurance Company in time. When this problem was brought to the notice of the Chief Minister in the recent Collectors’ conference in Chennai, the Chief Minister agreed to consider a suggestion to establish a State corpus fund for the purpose of providing compensation to farmers. The Centre’s fund could be diverted to the corpus once it was released to avoid the delay, he said.

On disbursement of farm loans by commercial banks, he said that after provisionally sanctioning loans to 20,000 farmers, the bank staff, in coordination with officials, had inspected the fields of 11,500 farmers and found only 6,000 eligible for loan.

The banks would complete inspection in the remaining areas by the month-end during which time farmers who were sanctioned loans could insure their crops.

Earlier, Pamaiyan, a Madurai-based farmer, practicing organic farming successfully, spoke on his experience in cultivating vegetables without using pesticides and fertilizers and offered to train farmers in the district. The Collector said that the Horticulture Department would organise a training programme for interested farmers in Pogalur and Nainarkoil areas.

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