An incongruous situation has arisen in the State with regard to paddy cultivation during the current Samba season.
Despite this year’s southwest monsoon having yielded higher rainfall for the State and irrigation reservoirs having comfortable storage, the coverage of paddy is about 90,000 hectares short of what was achieved in 2021.
The primary reason is the fall in coverage reported in the non-Cauvery delta region, which has raised paddy over approximately 2 lakh hectares against about 2.82 lakh hectares last year. There has been a drop of about 70,000 hectares.
An official of the State Agriculture Department attributes the cause for the fall in coverage in the non-delta region to the “poor performance” in southern districts, such as Ramanathapuram, Sivaganga and Virudhunagar. Surprisingly, these three districts have recorded excess rainfall during the 2022 monsoon.
“There wasn’t much rainfall when we needed it,” says M. Maduraiveeran, a farmer-leader based out of Paramakudi, Ramanathapuram. He points out that since the arrival of the Tamil month of Aavani (August-September), when the farming activity picked up invariably, there has been a lean patch.
His observation gets reinforced by the rainfall data of the Meteorological Department. Till August 31 (since June 1), Ramanathapuram, Sivaganga and Virudhunagar districts recorded 16.6 cm, 49 cm and 25 cm, but in the subsequent four weeks, the districts had about 1.4 cm, 9 cm and 5 cm of rain respectively.
There is one more reason. The farmer-leader complains that poor maintenance of water courses for irrigation and non-removal of seemai karuvelam, an exotic and invasive species considered harmful to the ecology, have contributed to the situation of farm fields receiving less water than otherwise, notwithstanding the Vaigai dam letting out excess water.
As for a marginal reduction in coverage in the delta region, the official says as farmers of the region did a better job during the Kuruvai cultivation season, they may possibly have decided to take a break and preferred to delay the cultivation. Eventually, there will not be any drop in the coverage of paddy in the delta region, the official says.
Meanwhile, the AIADMK’s interim general secretary Edappadi K. Palaniswami referred to reports of damage to the standing paddy crop in the delta region that was due for harvest. He demanded the payment of compensation of ₹35,000 per acre to the affected farmers, besides a survey of the rain-hit areas all over the State.