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Seeraga samba in the clutch of drought

G.Sathyamoorthi
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Variety exclusive to Uppiliyapuram panchayat union in State

lost its aroma:A farmer at seeraga samba paddy field in Vairichettipalayam in Tiruchi district.— R.M. RAJARATHINAM.
lost its aroma:A farmer at seeraga samba paddy field in Vairichettipalayam in Tiruchi district.— R.M. RAJARATHINAM.

Even a special paddy variety such as seeraga samba has not escaped the clutches of drought this year.

Just as basmati, this is a costly variety used exclusively for “biriyani”. Except the Uppiliyapuram panchayat union of Thuraiyur taluk of Tiruchi district, the variety is not raised in any other place in the State. V.C.Natarajan, a fertilizer dealer and agriculturist of Vairichettipalayam, who raises the variety, says that a few farmers of Lalgudi and Kumbakonam too raise this crop once in a while. But they have not been successful. Similarly, almost the entire farming community in the half-a-dozen villages in the block go in only for this variety and rarely for PBT or any other variety.

M.Radhakrishnan, who has raised seeraga samba in about five acres, says this variety has been in existence in Uppiliyapuram region for more than half a century.

They point out that this variety is raised in about 5,000 acres in the area adjoining Kolli Hills. “Our fields are hardly four kilometres from Namakkal district border.”

Apart from Vairichettipalayam, the variety is also raised in Kottapalayam, B.Mettur, and Thanganagar.

The major reason for the fertility of this region is the water from the hills.

“There are fountains and also a few tanks which are fed by the bigger tank called Jamberi”.

“As it is not used for normal food, the Tamil Nadu Civil Supplies Corporation does not procure this variety. This year, seeraga samba rice is selling around Rs.60 a kg. While the new seeraga samba paddy is sold at Rs.2, 500 a bag (80 kg), old paddy is quoting around Rs.3,000 a bag. Last year, it was ruling around Rs.1, 500 a bag and in 2011 it was Rs.1,900.

They also point out that the entire yield from these 5,000 acres is bought by about 60-70 merchants at the local level who hull it locally in about half a dozen units and sell it in Tiruchi, Salem, Tirupur, Coimbatore, and Pollachi markets.

The farmers who raise seeraga samba used to have three crops a year – first is seeraga samba (150 day crop that is planted during the first week of September for harvest by the end of January or the first half of February) followed by short-term variety ADT 43 (85-105 days) and finally they go in for ADT 43 again.

“Normally we used to get at least 25 bags of paddy (80 kilograms each). This year the harvest is yet to start and we are not sure whether we would be able to get even 10-12 bags because we also had to face drought conditions in certain parts of the region, especially the northern portion of Vairichettipalayam.”

“Even the water from the Ahayagangai fountain of the Kolli Hills could not help us much and there has been hardly any monsoon rain .”

If the same conditions were to persist, they are not certain whether they could go in for short-term crop now.

“Of course, we are not concerned over Cauvery and Karnataka’s recalcitrance to release water to Tamil Nadu as we are far away from the river,” they added.

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