Avoid cultivating water intensive crops in summer: farmers’ welfare association

A paddy field in a Tiruchi village. Photo: File

A paddy field in a Tiruchi village. Photo: File  

Instead, they can go for pulses and vegetables, farmers told.

With the storage position in the Mettur reservoir raising hopes of a full-fledged kuruvai crop later this year after a long gap, the Cauvery Delta Farmers Welfare Association has urged farmers to avoid cultivating water intensive crops such as paddy and sugarcane by tapping the groundwater in the delta region this summer.

Expressing concern over the recent trend of raising paddy during the summer in some parts of the delta, Mannargudi S.Ranganathan, general secretary of the association, said such practice threw the traditional cropping pattern into disarray and would affect prospects of crops in subsequent seasons such as kuruvai, thaladi and samba.

It would affect the groundwater resource and lead to shortage of drinking water as was the case a few years back.

His warning comes in the wake of many farmers taking up ploughing after samba harvest, apparently to raise an additional crop during the summer.

It also comes in the backdrop of calls from a few farmers’ organisations seeking continued release of water from Mettur Dam.

“The closure of the Mettur Dam for irrigation is a right decision. Dabbling in water intensive crops such as paddy and sugarcane during summer will completely deplete the groundwater and tell upon kuruvai, thaladi and samba crops,” he told The Hindu.

The kuruvai crop could not be raised over the past eight years in most part of the delta region due to poor storage in the Mettur Dam in June when the reservoir is usually opened for irrigation.

This year, the healthy storage position is expected to help farmers cultivate paddy in the kuruvai season.

From time memorial, farmers have been following the monsoon for cultivation. “The recent desire to have additional crop during summer has made the cropping pattern erratic. Nowadays, the kuruvai season goes beyond June-July and short duration kuruvai varieties are raised as late thaladi. The samba season also extends beyond January and continues into February,” he said. This made it very difficult for insurance companies to fix crop insurance premium and compensation for losses based on test harvests.

“I ask farmers to desist from cultivating water intensive crops such as paddy and sugarcane. Instead, they can go for pulses and vegetables, which are short duration crops and require very less water,” he said. He also called upon the government to issue an advisory to farmers and warn them against going for water intensive paddy crop during summer. It can even issue an order.

Summer cultivation also leads to a shortage of drinking water, he said citing the experience in the Needamangalam belt in Tiruvarur district a few years ago.

“Many farmers had gone for a summer crop then, tapping groundwater using very high powered motor pumpsets. As the water table depleted, households started facing a drinking water shortage leading to protests by women. It led to a situation wherein paddy fields were being irrigated with groundwater, farmers had no water to drink at their homes,” he recalled.

Observing that farmers are known for their pragmatic approach, he said they should be careful in preserving water resources and not create new crop seasons. “We should follow the established cropping pattern of kuruvai, thaladi and samba seasons. The cropping pattern should always be based on the monsoon and geography and not on whims and fancies of farmers,” Mr.Ranganathan observed.

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Printable version | Jul 14, 2020 10:31:10 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Tiruchirapalli/avoid-cultivating-water-intensive-crops-in-summer-farmers-welfare-association/article30689247.ece

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