‘Inspect fields to assess damage caused by fall armyworm’

Published - September 20, 2019 10:24 pm IST - Tirunelveli

Collector Shilpa Prabhakar Satish giving away farm implement to a beneficiary during the farmers’ grievance redressal meet held on Friday in Tirunelveli.

Collector Shilpa Prabhakar Satish giving away farm implement to a beneficiary during the farmers’ grievance redressal meet held on Friday in Tirunelveli.

District Collector Shilpa Prabhakar Satish has ordered the officials of Department of Agriculture to conduct field inspections to study the area of corn damaged by fall armyworm attack in Thiruvenkatam taluk and decide on the quantum of compensation to be given to affected farmers who had raised the crop with water available in their wells.

Chairing the farmers’ grievance redressal meet held at the Collectorate on Friday, Ms. Shilpa said farmers, who were cultivating corn in Kuruvikulam, Sankarankovil, Melaneelithanallur, Vasudevanallur and Alangulam, should take integrated protection measures to save the crop from pest attack, especially from fall armyworm attack, after getting proper advise from the officers concerned.

President of Karisalkulam Farmers’ Association G. V. R. Santhanam pointed out the confusion prevailing in deciding the quantum of compensation to corn growers who have suffered huge loss owing to fall armyworm attack.

While compensation of ₹1,700 per acre was being given for corn raised as rain-fed crop. In case of irrigated, a compensation of ₹3,500 per acre was being given.

“Farmers of Sevalkulam and Malaiyankulam, both in Thiruvenkatam taluk, had cultivated corn on over 4,000 acres with water available in the wells and suffered fall armyworm attack. However, the farmers had been given a compensation of only ₹1,700 per acre, which is applicable only for rain-fed crop. Since our farmers had raised corn with the water available in the wells, the farmers should be given the assured compensation of ₹3,500 per acre,” Mr. Santhanam said.

Ms. Shilpa immediately ordered the Agriculture Department officials to conduct field visit and submit a report within a fortnight in connection with the erratic distribution of compensation.

The farmers’ prolonged agony in getting crop insurance benefits reflected in this meeting also as most of the farmers who had insured their crops and subsequently suffered loss in 2016 – 2017 are yet to get assistance. Responding to it, the officials said that farmers, who were waiting for crop insurance benefits for 2016 – 2017 would soon get it following a recent meeting the Agriculture Department officials had with the top officials of the insurance firm.

“The insurance benefits will be disbursed once the list of beneficiary farmers is received,” the officials replied.

District Revenue Officer B. Muthuramalingam, in his introductory remarks, said small and the marginal farmers in the age between 18 and 40 alone can become members of the Prime Minister’s Kisan Samman Nidhi Scheme. The members can pay a premium ranging from ₹55 to ₹200 based on their age until attaining the age of 60 and start getting a monthly pension of ₹3,000 from the next year until they breathed their last, Mr. Muthuramalingam informed

The farmers appealed to the Collector to recommend to the Central Government to increase the upper age limit to enrol under this scheme as most of the farmers actively involved in farming operations were 50 years old. Moreover, small and marginal farmers should be exempted from paying the premium of ₹200 for getting pension. “All farmers who have crossed the age of 60 should be given a monthly pension of ₹3,000 besides exempting us from paying the premium,” said P. Velumayil of Communist Party of India (Marxist).

Accepting it, Ms. Shilpa said she would forward the farmers sentiments on increasing the upper age limit to 50 to the government.

Farmer T. Kandasamy of Keezhapuliyoor, showing a bunch of onion harvested in his farm, said the government, which was giving a subsidy of ₹6,500 per hectare for onion growers till last year, had withdrawn the assistance from this year. When he appealed to the officials for taking steps to revive the assistance, no official in the meeting gave any reply to this query.

Sub-Collectors P. Akash of Cheranmahadevi and Manish Naranavare of Tirunelveli, and Joint Director of Agriculture Krishnapillai were present.

Earlier, Ms. Shilpa presented farm implements worth ₹1.13 crore to beneficiary farmers.

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