Madurai

Rains dampen harvest-season spirit of paddy farmers

Unseasonal rains have caused lodging of crops on the verge of harvest at Kottaimedu near Alanganallur in Madurai district.   | Photo Credit: R. Ashok

This is the time of the year when paddy harvest happens in full swing across the district - but not this time.

“Most farmers start harvesting their paddy crop after Pongal festival and reap rewards for their hard work. However, this year has turned out to be disastrous for farmers as the recent rains have damaged the crop ready for harvest,” says N. Chandra, a 70-year-old farmer from Kottaimedu near Alanganallur.

The heavy and unseasonal rain this month has caused lodging of crops. At many pockets, the crops have started sprouting after being submerged in water.

Joint Director of Agriculture T. Vivekanandan says a field-level enumeration by officials revealed that paddy crop had been damaged in around 3,000 hectares in Vadipatti, Chellampatti, Madurai East, Madurai West and Alanganallur blocks. “The enumeration process is under way and we are expecting more areas of damaged paddy fields,” he says.

An official from the district administration says the north-east monsoon had extended till the mid of January this year, which is very unusual. “Madurai has not witnessed such rains in January in the past several decades,” he says. The district witnessed excess rainfall both in the south-west as well as the north-east monsoon this year. As a result, most of the tanks in the district are filled up to the brim, he adds.

High rent for harvester

M. Tirupathi, a farmer from Kulamangalam, says the rains have caused lodging of the paddy crop, which made it difficult to harvest them. “The rent for harvesters for one hour is ₹3,000. Usually, it takes around one-and-a-half hours to harvest an acre of paddy field. But, with the lodging of crop, it will take around three hours to harvest one acre. This will increase the rent we pay for the harvesters,” he says. In addition, the labour cost for drying the paddy will add to additional expenses, he adds.

But water needs to drain out completely from the fields to enable harvesting, points out Ms. Chandra. The yield will also be lower this year owing to the damage caused by the rains, says R. Arulprakasam, a farmer. “The farmers are also unable to get paddy straw due to the damage caused by the rains,” he adds.

N. Prabhakaran, a farmer from Madakulam, says the government must provide compensation to all farmers, including those who have not insured their crop.

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Printable version | Feb 26, 2021 4:24:39 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Madurai/rains-dampen-harvest-season-spirit-of-paddy-farmers/article33603097.ece

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