Madurai

Weather dashes hopes of banana cultivators

Nature’s fury: Unusual gale and rain destroyed banana crop in Sholavandan and Melur blocks in Madurai district recently, making the farmers suffer a heavy loss.

Nature’s fury: Unusual gale and rain destroyed banana crop in Sholavandan and Melur blocks in Madurai district recently, making the farmers suffer a heavy loss.   | Photo Credit: G. Moorthy

Crop raised in 60 hectares destroyed by gale and rain in two blocks

For farmers, weather plays an important role in cultivating crops and realising good yield from them. From the planting stage to the time of harvest, each step has to be executed with minute detail and precision for all crops. Be it irrigating crops or giving fertilizers, weather plays a crucial role. If the weather is abnormal, it will spoil the fortunes of farmers.

During this season, the unexpected happened. According to meteorological department, “powerful and unusual gale and rain hit Madurai and its suburbs, which lasted for about 30 minutes. This resulted in a huge loss for farmers as standing banana trees in Sholavandan and Melur blocks were uprooted.”

Lightning has claimed the lives of over 10 persons and 100 and odd cattle heads in Tirumangalam and surrounding areas since April.

When The Hindu team went around the peripheries of Madurai, a majority of the farmers were a worried lot and disgusted to talk about the gale and rain, which hit their crop 40 days ago.

Kani, a farmer in Mullipallam near Sholavandan said that as a ritual, officials from the Department of Horticulture inspected the fields, assessed the damage and took note of the claims. But, the government had never compensated the farmers in the past.

Mr. Kani wept uncontrollably even as he was explaining how furious nature was and how it spoilt his banana crop. “If the gale and rain had not hit the area in April, today I would have happily harvested the fruits... all the 2,000 trees fell like a pack of cards . It got over in less than five minutes. I could do nothing but leave the cattle feed on the destroyed trees,” he noted. A week ago, he continued after a pause, he went to Batlagundu market and sold the leftover bananas for ₹380. “If my crop was not hit by the gale and rain, I would have booked a profit of ₹6 lakh. Today, I stand in my land having suffered a loss of ₹1.80 lakh as the investment had been totally wiped off,” he said.

Another farmer, Sasikumar of M. Pudupatti near Kadupatti, said that banana crop raised in many stretches in villages around Sholavandan was destroyed. “I lost banana trees raised in two acres.” When he was expecting to get ₹7 lakh through the sale of the fruits, he suffered total loss. “My investment was close to ₹4 lakh,” he claimed.

Deputy Director (Horticulture) G.O. Boopathi said that the gale was unusual and abnormal. “We have taken stock of the loss in Sholavandan and parts of Melur. Our preliminary assessment is that about 60 hectares of the 2,000 ha cultivated this season might have been affected. We have suggested preventive measures to the farmers and asked them to avail themselves of crop insurance as they could get both the claim and the compensation from the government.”

Another official from Theni district, which is known for cultivation of banana crop in a huge area, said that by getting the crop insured, the farmers could get some relief in case of such natural disasters. During the last drought, the farmers in Theni belt had managed to get relief from insurance companies as they had insured their crops.

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Printable version | Feb 18, 2020 3:54:46 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Madurai/weather-dashes-hopes-of-banana-cultivators/article18721612.ece

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