Scanty rainfall dashes hopes of farmers

E.M. Manoj
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Wayanad received 887.40 mm rainfall since June 1

: Scanty rainfall during the monsoon has cast a shadow over the lives of the farming community in Wayanad district, a major coffee and spices growing region in the State. Rainfall data compiled by the Regional Agriculture Research Station (RARS) of Kerala Agricultural Univer sity at Ambalavayal projects tough times for farmers unless the northeast monso on brings abundant rainfall.

According to the data, the district received 887.40 mm rainfall since June 1, as against 1,652.60 mm during the corresponding period last year. Normal rainfall in the district a year was close to 2,000 mm, K.M. Sunil, Assistant Professor, Agriculture, RARS, told The Hindu . The station recorded total rainfall of 1,161 mm, including the summer showers, since January 1, 2012. But, it was 2,008 mm during the same period last year, a decline of 42.42 per cent. Normally the North-East monsoon accounted for 30 per cent of the rain. However, it was yet to set in, he added. The monsoon played a crucial role in the production of cash crops such as pepper, coffee, cardamom, plantain, ginger, and tuber crops. Production of pepper may dip to 60 per cent owing to the sharp decline in rainfall during its pollination period, farming sources said.

Many farmers could not apply fertiliser to ginger crops in time, especially those who had planted ginger on highlands, and the time delay in fertiliser application had adversely affected the production, sources said.

Sources in the coffee industry said coffee production would decline by 20 to 30 per cent owing to scanty summer rain. Moreover, less rain during the monsoon would adversely affect the growth of coffee berry. It was reported that close to 30 per cent of paddy fields were kept fallow as farmers could not transplant paddy plants in time owing to less rainfall. Whereas, farmers who had cultivated paddy were also in a fix as they experienced a drought-like situation for the past one month. According to data collected by the Agriculture Department, close to 1,300 hectares of land had been utilised for nanja paddy cultivation last year. If we a get better northeast monsoon, it may solve the drinking water issue up to certain extent.

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