The failure of the monsoon and absence of water for irrigation have forced many farmers in Vellore, Katpadi, Anaicut, K.V. Kuppam and Gudiyatham blocks to take to the business of buying and selling cattle for meagre profits.
A visit to the weekly cattle shandy in Poigai village, about 10 km from Vellore, and interviews with the cattle dealers revealed that most of them are small farmers, owning 50 cents to two acres of land.
“This is my business now,” said Ramakrishnan (40) of Muttukkoor village in Katpadi taluk who owns 50 cents of agricultural land in his village.
“I have taken to this business because of the absence of water for irrigation and the decline in agriculture. I have brought three milch cows to the shandy. After selling them, I will again buy cows, which I will nurture for some time and sell later”, he said.
Govindasamy (45) of Keezhmuttukkoor village in K.V. Kuppam block said that it was the drying up of the irrigation well in his field and the consequent failure of crops which forced him to take to the cattle trade.
“I come to the shandy every week,” he said, adding, “Business, however, is not good.”
Saravanan, a cattle dealer from Senrampalli village in Gudiyatham taluk, said he owned one acre in his village, but could not do any cultivation there owing to drought conditions.
“I used to grow groundnut in my field, but since I depend on rain, I could not cultivate the crop due to the absence of rain,” he said.
Enquiries with the cattle dealers and labourers revealed that they are able to eke out their livelihood through the cattle business mainly because of the milk producers in Chennai and Bangalore.
“Every week, several private milk producers from Chennai and Bangalore come to the Poigai shandy to buy well-grown cows to carry on their business,” said Sekhar, a labourer of Poigai.
But the arrivals in the shandy have dwindled this summer on account of the lack of fodder and the consequent poor nourishment of the cows, which would have no takers.