Drought brings tears to onion growers

  • G. Sathyamoorthi
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13,000 farmers in Perambalur district affected

seeds of hope:Seed onions kept ready at Mangoon village near Perambalur.— PHOTO: R.M. RAJARATHINAM.
seeds of hope:Seed onions kept ready at Mangoon village near Perambalur.— PHOTO: R.M. RAJARATHINAM.

Onion is one of the crops seriously affected in Perambalur district leaving more than 13,000 farmers high and dry.

The gross domestic product of Perambalur, one of the most backward districts in the State in terms of economy and agriculture, gets some support from crops such as maize, cotton, and onion.

To the high-level ministerial committee which visited Peramabalur district on Friday to assess the drought-damage, District Collector Darez Ahmed pointed out that 1.58 lakh farmers in the district were affected because of the drought which had ravaged more than 90 per cent of the cultivated area of 84,000 hectares of land.

He said more than 50 per cent of the crop had been affected on 23,237 hectares of the total cotton area of 23,650 hectares and 45,715 hectares of the total millet area of 47,566 hectares. The third and a very significant impact of drought had been on small onion too. Of the small onion area of 5,964 hectares as much as 4,734 hectares had been affected.

S. Satheesh and M. Baskaran, farmers of Mangoor in Siruvayalur panchayat, told The Hindu that as against the normal harvest of 80 bags (80 kg), this season they could get only 50 to 60 bags, that too thanks to the groundwater.

“We did not have any rain for months together in this region. Normally, this three-month crop is harvested during December — January. The next season starts in June which is likely to be harvested by August. This depends upon summer rains and the south-west monsoon. Even three to five centimetres of rain would be of immense support to the crops.”

They lamented that the groundwater level had plummeted.

“If we have to sink borewells, we will have to go to a depth of 500 ft.” They have a very big open well which caters to almost 150 families in the vicinity. “But if we have to deepen this further, we might have to spend Rs. 5 lakh which we can’t afford. Hence, we are extremely apprehensive of the ensuing season,” they said.

They admitted that they were storing the seed onion in the hope that it would rain in a month or two and thus save them from disaster. They were unhappy that the State government had so far announced relief only for the delta farmers. “We are keeping our fingers crossed about the announcement of Chief Minister Jayalalithaa providing us some relief as we are badly affected because of drought,” they said.




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