Harsh summer leaves Kerala’s farm sector reeling under heavy losses

₹ 500 crore in direct and indirect losses affect more than 50,000 farmers across Kerala, says report

Updated - May 16, 2024 10:34 am IST

Published - May 15, 2024 06:46 pm IST - THIRUVANANTHAPURAM

The harsh summer of 2024 has left Kerala’s agriculture sector reeling under heavy losses, a block-wise assessment of the situation carried out by the State Agriculture Department has found. In direct and indirect terms, the losses have been pegged at over ₹500 crore.

The absence of summer rainfall and the resultant crop loss hit 56,947 farmers during February, March and April. Crop loss was reported in 46,587 hectares affecting cardamom, paddy, pepper and banana the most, according to the report which was handed over to Agriculture Minister P. Prasad the other day.

Direct losses arising from crop loss were pegged at ₹260 crore, covering 23,021 hectares, and indirect losses from impacts on production, ₹250 crore across 23,569 hectares.

Among the districts, Idukki, Thrissur, Palakkad and Wayanad were the worst-hit. “Approximately 60,000 nominal farmers and farm labourers are likely to face severe financial hardship due this summer. The likely shortage of planting material could impact revival programmes,” it said.

The losses to cardamom crop accounted for 65% of the total loss. Paddy accounted for 14%, pepper 7%, banana 6%, arecanut 3%. Other crops affected by the drought-like situation included coffee, vegetables, rubber, coconut and nutmeg.

Cardamom crop in 30,536 hectares sustained loss/damage. Crop loss to paddy was reported in 6,369 hectares, pepper in 3,182 hectares and banana, 2,884 hectares, the report said. The summer heat and resultant drought-like conditions harmed crop growth, production and yield and crop health.

In Idukki alone, crop loss was reported across 33,722 hectares this summer, affecting 29,743 farmers. Farmers in all 14 districts sustained losses, with Thrissur (3,495 hectares and 6,713 farmers) and Palakkad (3,234 hectares and 4,936 farmers) in second and third spots.

KPCC president K. Sudhakaran on Wednesday demanded urgent measures to compensate farmers who were hit by losses. Any delay in this regard would trigger protests, he said.

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