Majority of the beneficiaries in districts where no monsoon has set in feel government should also provide free fodder

Dry weather conditions prevailing in some parts of the southern districts in the State are creating a problem for those who received milch cows or sheep/goat from the government under its welfare schemes.

A visit to some villages in Madurai, Virudhunagar, and Tuticorin districts shows that many beneficiaries find it difficult to get the required feed for the animals.

S. Sathiyammal of Muthalapuram village in Virudhunagar district said the dry condition prevailing in her place forced her to buy cattle feed for the cow and a calf she received from the government.

“We have to buy cattle feed from Virudhu Nagar, which is sold at Rs. 20 per kg. So whatever the revenue from the milk that we sell to the societies is not even enough to buy cattle feed,” she said.

Majority of the beneficiaries in these districts, where no monsoon has set in, feel that the government should provide free fodder for those who received the milch animals.

Standardisation of milk price

Another issue the beneficiaries raised was that there was no standard amount paid by the milk societies for the milk taken from the beneficiaries. It varied from district to district.

The beneficiaries get Rs. 17 in Madurai and Virudhu Nagar districts, while the price is Rs. 16 per litre in Tuticorin and Rs. 20 in Tirunelveli district. Majority of the beneficiaries feel that the government should fix a standard price for the milk they sell to the societies. Ms. Sathiyammal said, “Only when the government increases procurement price for milk and distribute free fodder in drought hit areas, the rural poor would really benefit”.

Similarly, those who received goats/sheep under the scheme also feel the same way. R. Ramalakshmi of Muthalapuram village in Virudhunagar district said: “Every day we have to take the goats for nearly five kilometres for grazing. Similarly, due to the dry condition prevailing in our village, water for the animals has also become scarce.”

Animal Husbandry Department sources said the deficit of green fodder in State has been worked out at 25 to 30 per cent. In order to overcome the fodder shortage in the State, the government had implemented fodder development scheme under which approximately 50,000 acres of land belonging to farmers have been brought under cultivation. In the current year also the government proposed to raise fodder in 12,000 acres of lands belonging to farmers.

As per the guidelines of the scheme, the beneficiaries must maintain the animals for specific period of time. The young ones of these animals can be sold. While milch cows have to be maintained for four years, goats/sheep have to be maintained for two years.

Whenever instances of animals being wilfully sold by beneficiaries was brought to the authorities’ notice, a police case was filed against them. Further, the actual cost of the animal is recovered and deposited in the government account.

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