Tamil Nadu appears to be well placed to achieve a record rice production in the current year, too, going by the coverage during the Kuruvai cultivation season and the storage in 15 major reservoirs.
Despite the rice production for 2022-23 having been projected to be lower than the previous year and the State government’s push for crop diversification, the comfortable position of reservoirs and the reliability of the minimum support system (MSP) for paddy are expected to make farmers stick to their age-old practice of raising paddy, according to many farmers and agricultural specialists. During 2021-22, the State produced 80.67 lakh tonnes of rice and the target for the present year is 75.5 lakh tonnes.
This time, the State has accomplished the coverage of around 5.36 lakh acres in the Cauvery delta, about 46,000 acres higher than what was achieved last year and nearly 14,000 acres more than the target. The ongoing Kuruvai season is expected to yield at least 16 lakh tonnes of rice.
As on August 22, the storage in 15 major reservoirs was equivalent to 92% of their total capacity, whereas it was 52% on the corresponding day last year. As on date, while the Mettur and Sholayar reservoirs remained full, the storage in the Bhavanisagar, Amaravathi, Mullaperiyar, Parambikulam and Aliyar was close to the brim. This makes the prospects of the coming Samba season look better than last year.
The higher coverage in the delta this time has become possible because of the commencement of water release from Mettur on May 24, nearly 20 days ahead of the scheduled release on June 12, coupled with the implementation of a package of assistance to the tune of about ₹61 crore. As of now, the authorities have spent around ₹52.6 crore, under which 5.36 lakh acres have been covered. The substantial chunk of the sum has gone towards the distribution of around 21,000 tonnes of fertilizers to cover 1.8 lakh acres, costing nearly ₹44.4 crore. The other components are distribution of paddy seeds-₹4 crore; crop diversification (millets, pulses and oilseeds-groundnut), covering nearly 20,000 acres-₹3 crore, and distribution of farm machinery-₹1.13 crore.
Between June 1 and August 24, the realisation of the Cauvery water at Biligundulu was 289.34 thousand million cubic feet (tmc ft), about 213 tmc ft higher than the stipulated quantity of 76 tmc ft for the elapsed period. In August alone, around 166 tmc ft was received by the State. The water level at the Mullaperiyar dam remained at 136.3 ft.