Shyam Ranganathan

NAGAPPATTINAM: While the kuruvai harvest is still going on in the tail-end of the delta region in Nagappattinam and Thiruvarur districts, farmers are worried over the prospects of samba transplantation owing to water shortage.

Arupathy Kalyanam, general secretary, Federation of Farmers’ Associations (Cauvery Region), said transplantation of samba seedlings was tardy because of water supply. Water from the Mettur dam was not sufficient, despite the government’s order to increase the quantum of outflow to 20,000 cusecs. Problems in power supply were also causing difficulties to those using pumpsets.

The slow transplantation could cause trouble if the monsoon set in soon, he said. “The seedlings need to be at least 3-4 week-old after transplantation to withstand the rain and the winds of the monsoon [scheduled to arrive around October-end). But the water shortage is slowing up the process,” he said.

Another issue, he said, was that the seedlings had already been in the nursery for more than 30-45 days, the ideal time after which they should be transplanted.

Farmers were holding back because of the lack of sufficient water, but seedlings transplanted after more than 45 days in the nursery typically did not give good yields, he said.

Storage dwindling

Manivannan, Joint Director, Agriculture, Nagappattnam, said there were issues with water supply, but the government had gone ahead with providing 20,000 cusecs to ensure sufficient quantum. Though the level in the Mettur dam was dwindling fast (the inflow was less than the outflow for the past few days), Mr. Manivannan said the dam had enough water to last till the monsoon.

He noted that similar issues were raised in respect of the kuruvai crop, but there was a record yield this year, with nearly 2.5 tonnes an acre. The district cropping area target of 30,000 hectares had also exceeded, with over 34,000 hectares sown with kuruvai this year. About 25 per cent of the samba transplantation was complete (30,000 hectares) in the district, he said, and the current water supply was sufficient to ensure that the transplantation was completed in the next few weeks before the monsoon set in.

S. Ranganathan, general secretary, Cauvery Delta Farmers’ Welfare Association, said that though farmers had genuine apprehensions about the samba transplantation, it was more important to take a long-term and holistic approaching to the problems in the delta. The current controversy over the moisture content of paddy procured by the government could have been avoided, had the government taken a practical approach and issued an order to allow procurement of all kuruvai paddy with up to 24 per cent moisture content.

Likewise, all the problems of the tail-end region of the delta needed to be assessed a pro-active basis, given the fact that the region was hit with water scarcity in the early period owing to its position at the tail-end of irrigation canals, and flooding in the late period because the excess water flowed through the region in case of torrential rain.