Take up cultivation of crops in time

THANJAVUR: Tamil Nadu Government has taken up various irrigation projects in Thanjavur district for the benefit of farmers, said S. S. Palanimanickam, Union Minister of State for Finance, here on Monday.

Inaugurating the construction of a grade wall across the Kodamuruti river for ensuring assured supply of water to Serumakkanallur and Chakkarapalli canals where still level has become higher than the bed level of the Kodamuruty river at Ayyampettai in Papanasam taluk, the minister said that renovation of Grand Anicut canal, Vadavar extension scheme and Kollidam river schemes were examples for the importance given by Government for irrigation development in Thanjavur district.

Now the construction of a grade wall across the Kodamuruti is taken up at a cost of Rs. 4.02 crores. The fund is provided by National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (NABARD). When implemented, the two canals (Serumakkanallur and Chakkarapalli) will get assured water supply and nearly 1,847 acres of ayacut will benefit. Six villages (Serumakkanallur, Sarabojirajapuram, Chakkarapalli, Soolamangalam Endam Sethi, Vazhuthur and Regunathapuram) will get full benefit from the project. The minister asked the Public Works Department engineers to finish the project in time so that the farmers could get the benefit this year itself.

M.S.Shanmugham, Collector, appealed to the farmers to take up cultivation of crops in time and set a crop pattern. This would help in crop management. This year four lakh tonnes of paddy had been procured in the district. Desilting of canals had been taken up in the district at a cost of Rs. four crores during this summer and work was going on.

T. Ravikumar, Assistant General Manager, NABARD, said the bank had created Rural Infrastructure Development Fund with an allotment Rs. 12,000 crores in 1995-96 for taking up rural development projects. The fund was increased to Rs. 1,22,218 crores. For Tamil Nadu alone, a sum of Rs. 1,000 crores had been allotted for the year 2009-10. To achieve 10 per cent of economic growth in the eleventh year plan period, investment to the tune of 7 to eight per cent should be done in infrastructure development. Infrastructure development is very much necessary for economic development, Ravikumar said. Moorthy, Chief Engineer, PWD, Asokan, Executive Engineer, Cauvery division, PWD and others participated in the meeting.

From THE HINDU

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Theni: Water-starved, paddy crop dying

THENI: Paddy crop in thousands of acres in Cumbum Valley is withering owing to scorching heat and early stoppage of water from Periyar Dam.

Paddy crop in a part of Uthamapalayam and over 550 acres under the ayacut of Karungankattan Kulam, 700 acres under Vairavan Canal, 500 acres under Chinna Canal and a sizable area under 17 channels is in a bad condition, according to farmers. Veerapandi is the worst affected as the entire crop is dying.

Representatives of several farmers’ associations want immediate release of water to protect the standing crop.

K. Raju From THE HINDU

Coffee, pepper cultivation on in Jawadu Hills

The drive is aimed at providing additional income to tribals and prevent migration

Seed beds of coffee, pepper prepared in Kovilur

New crops will be raised only on unutilised portions of land

Tiruvannamalai: Coffee plants and pepper vines are being cultivated in Jawadu hills, the hill known for conventional crops such as ‘samai’ (small millet).

With an aim to provide additional income to the tribal people of this hill and thereby check their migration to the plains seeking employment, a couple of NGOs working in the hill have devised a plan to introduce spices, fruits and coffee to the hills, in coordination with the State Horticulture Department.

Jawadu Tribal Women Development Society, in coordination with the department, has prepared seed beds of coffee and pepper in Kovilur. “About 20 kg of coffee seeds brought from Yercaud have been sowed in the seedbed. It will produce about 50,000 seedlings, which can be transplanted on about 50 acres of land. Likewise, about one lakh pepper cuttings were planted in a seedling bed, which can be replanted on about 100 acres of land,” J. Karunakaran, Horticulture Officer, Tiruvannamalai, told The Hindu.

Both coffee and pepper seedlings prepared in these beds would be ready for plantation in about six months, he said. “As these crops are new to Jawadu Hills, a 10-day training programme is being hosted with the help of NABARD, starting from January 18. Methods of nursery rising and cultivation of these crops are being taught to 30 tribal women.

These crops which require shades will be planted under trees on the lands of the tribals. The new crops will not disturb their conventional crops such as ‘samai’ or paddy. Coffee and pepper crops will be raised only on unutilised portions of land. So, it is likely to give the tribals additional income. “The climate here is also very conducive to such crops,” Mr. Karunakaran said.

“Saplings of eight varieties of fruits and spices, all new to the hills, including Surinam cherry, Rambutan, litchi, Duriyan, nutmeg (Jathi), cinnamon, clove and garcinia have also been distributed to various tribal villages. About 3,300 saplings of these varieties brought from Kallar State Farm were distributed to the tribal people from Aattiyanur, Nachamalai, Nallapattu, Mel Athipattu, etc.,” Mr. Karunakaran said.

Senthil, president of Jawadu People Development Society, another NGO involved in the drive, told The Hindu that people from the plains started purchasing lands in the hill while tribals of the hill move to the plains seeking employment. “We hope these crops keep a check on the trend,” he said.

A.D. Balasubramaniyan From THE HINDU

Erode: Do not use land under food crops for cultivation of other crops

Officials told to ensure that farmers get a good price for their produce

ERODE: In promoting various crops, Horticulture Department officials should ensure that they do not take away land under food crops, C.V. Sairam, senior scientist, Zonal Project Directorate, Indian Council for Agriculture Research, Bangalore, has said.

“In the interest of the society, the Department officials should not use land under food crops for promoting any other crops, as food crop production is on the decline,” he told the Department officers at the one-day master training programme on Technological Options in Production, Post Harvest Management and Marketing of Aromatic Crops, the MRADA Krishi Vigyan Kendra conducted here on Friday.

“I understand that other crops should also be promoted and that Horticulture Department officials have targets to meet, which can be easily achieved by working in coordination with other departments.”

Mr. Sairam also asked the officers to ensure that farmers get a good price for their produce, as they “win on farms but lose out in markets.”

V. P. Alagesan, assistant director, Horticulture Department, Erode, said under the National Mission on Medicinal Plants, the Department had promoted gloriosa cultivation on 150 hectares and provided subsidy for the same to farmers.

The Department provided 50 per cent of the estimated cost of cultivation of Rs. 1.35 lakh a hectare and had given the subsidy to135 farmers, he said and added that gloriosa seeds were used for preparing medicines to cure knee pain.

Mr. Alagesan said in the current year, the Government had given a target of 200 ha and the Department had achieved the target by promoting the same plant.

He conceded that gloriosa cultivation was concentrated in and around Moolanur and Dharapuram, areas that were part of Tirupur district, but under the jurisdictional control of the Erode office of the Department. Once the control of the areas was transferred to the Tirupur office, the Erode office would have a tough time meeting the targets as in rest of the areas of the district, there was hardly any cultivation of medicinal plants and herbs.

The programme would provide the right opportunity for the Department officers to take up cultivation of medicinal plants, herbs and aromatic plants in other parts of the district, he added. G. Santhanam, assistant general manager, National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development, Erode, said under the Banks tribal development programme to be taken up in Thalavady, Bargur and Kadambur hills, the Department officers could consider promoting herbs and aromatic plants.

M. Balusamy, professor and head, Agriculture Research Station, Tamil Nadu Agriculture University, Bhavani Sagar, said the University was committed to providing support to initiatives of the Department by giving quality seeds and saplings.

MYRADA-KVK Programme Coordinator P. Alagesan spoke on the activities of the organisation and explained how it had promoted rosemary cultivation in the hills and also offered marketing assistance for the farmers.

From THE HINDU

Tamilnadu: Erode does well in paddy production

Increased yield attributed to System of Rice Intensification method

ERODE: In the backdrop of the disturbing news that the country will import rice for the first time in two decades, there’s some positive news as well.

Erode, an agrarian district, has been faring pretty well in paddy production and consistently at that.

In the current year, the Agriculture Department has so far brought 33,500 ha under paddy cultivation.

This is further expected go up, as the Department is yet to take in to account the cultivation in later part of the second season ‘Samba’.

On the rise: Erode district has been consistently good at paddy cultivation, though the country faces a shortage of rice. – Photo: M. Govarthan

An officer says farmers will cultivate paddy with seepage waters from Lower Bhavani Project canal and Kalingarayan Canal.

There will second cultivation in Thadapalli-Arakankottai area as well.

Once the figures are available the area under paddy is expected to be more than last year’s 48,912 ha. In 2007-08, the Department helped farmers bring 38,359 ha under the crop.

Of the 33,500 ha this year, the Department has brought 15,480 ha under the System of Rice Intensification method of cultivation.

This technique, which calls for increased spacing among paddy saplings, results in increased yield.

Figures available with the Department suggest that the increase will be as much as 1,500 kg a hectare.

The officer says the Department will be able to achieve the target of 16,400 ha for SRI for the current year once the figures for the second season are also available.

In the current year the Department projects 9,700 kg a hectare under SRI, as against an average yield of 6,540 kg from traditional cultivation practice. The officer says the Department has over the years promoted paddy cultivation by implementing a variety of Central and State governments’ schemes.

Under the Agriculture Technology Management Agency scheme, the officer says, the Department provides financial assistance to farmers to set up SRI demonstration plots.

The Department gives Rs. 4,000 a farmer for setting up the plots and it has achieved the target of setting up 138 plots across the district.

Further under the Union Government’s Integrated Cereal Development Programme the Department has set up SRI cluster.

The Government provides a subsidy for Rs. 3,000 an acre for setting up SRI clusters, with a cluster comprising 25 acres. In Erode 700 such clusters have been set up, the officer says.

These are in addition to the support the Department gives paddy farmers by supplying quality seeds at a subsidy. The initiatives the Department has taken have put Erode in a better position in the State, as in its average paddy production is higher than the State’s.

From THE HINDU

Tirunelveli: Poor rainfall reported

Water level in rain-fed tanks low

TIRUNELVELI: Even as storage level in all irrigation dams in the district and also in the tanks close to the Western Ghats is comfortable, water level in the rain-fed tanks in the plains still remains a cause for concern owing to insufficient rainfall.

The recent low pressure in the Bay of Bengal ensured a significant inflow into the Papanasam, Manimuthar and Servalar dams, major reservoirs of the district, and also into eight other relatively small dams in the Western Ghats.

Consequently, all irrigation tanks close to the Western Ghats are also brimming with water now. However, the inadequate rainfall in the plains has left several hundreds of rain-fed tanks with some water, which is enough only for just 30 days.

Monsoon failure

“As the southwest monsoon this year was a complete failure as for as Tirunelveli district is concerned, storage level in the dams, particularly in Papanasam, Manimuthar and Servalar reservoirs, went down precariously. Consequently we could not release water for the systemised tanks and there is no need to say anything about storage of water in the rain-fed irrigation tanks in the plains during the period between June and September. Now, the rainfall so far registered in the district has benefited only the dams as well as the tanks near Western Ghats,” said a top PWD official here.

Admitted

Admitting it, Joint Director of Agriculture, S. Velusamy said almost all rain-fed tanks in the Sankarankovil, Melaneelithanallur and Maanur had water for only 30 days as rainfall in this region was insufficient.

“Similarly, the present storage level in the rain-fed tanks in Keezhapaavoor and Alangulam region is also not satisfactory. Consequently, water level in the irrigation wells, mostly in these regions, has not improved much. Let us all pray for more rains,” Mr. Velusamy said.

Cultivation

However, he hoped that the area of cultivation of ‘pisanam’ paddy, normally done on 86,000 acres in Tirunelveli and Tuticorin districts, would not be affected as there would be sufficient rainfall in the plains too.

Meanwhile, District Collector M. Jayaraman on Monday released water from Manimuthar dam for the Third and Fourth Reaches under the Manimuthar Irrigation System having 176 irrigation tanks.

“These tanks will feed paddy to be cultivated on 5,603 hectare under the Third Reach and 6,415 hectares in the Fourth Reach. Water will be released from Manimuthar dam for 137 days (till March 31, 2010) based on the farmers’ need,” Mr. Jayaraman told reporters after releasing water from the reservoir.

He said fertilizers and other agricultural inputs had been stocked in the district in adequate quantity and Rs. 39 crore had been disbursed during the current fiscal towards crop loan by the cooperative banks against the target of Rs. 45 crore.

P. Sudhakar – From THE HINDU

Tamilnadu-Erode-Seepage along LBP canal causes water loss

Farmers’ eagerness to cultivate lands out of turn and draw more water weakens the canal

ERODE: All along the 124-mile Lower Bhavani Project main canal there is something that happens in frequent intervals, which seen in isolation does not matter much. But when taken together presents a very disturbing picture: seepage.

Needs attention: Lower Bhavani Farmers Federation says 600 cusecs of water is lost because of seepage along the Lower Bhavani Project Canal . — Photo: M. Govarthan

Needs attention: Lower Bhavani Farmers Federation says 600 cusecs of water is lost because of seepage along the Lower Bhavani Project Canal . — Photo: M. Govarthan

According to Lower Bhavani Farmers Federation as much as 600 cusecs is lost to seepage.

Put in perspective the loss accounts for a little over a quarter of the quantity the Public Works Department releases from the Bhavani Sagar Dam: 2,300 cusecs.

A random check conducted between the sixtieth mile and fiftieth mile revealed too many seepage points.

For example at the fifty-sixth mile, very close to the National Highways 47, the water seepage from the left bank is too heavy to be ignored.

Similarly at Nallampatti where the village road goes beneath the canal, the seepage is too heavEy. Along the Nallampatti-Palakarai Road too the story is very much the same. Farmers use the seepage water to cultivate lands that otherwise will get its due at the end of the turn system of irrigation.

T. Subbu of Tamizhaga Vivasayeegal Sangam, a farmers’ organisation, says farmers eagerness to cultivate lands out of turn, to cultivate more land and to draw more water to do so, increases seepage points, thus weakening the canal. In many a location along the canal, farmers in a bid to cultivate more lands have encroached upon Public Works Departments lands.

Erode - Farmers have flattened lands

Erode - Farmers have flattened lands

Encroachment

The farmers’ representative says the farmers have flattened lands contingent with the left bank to raise crops. In other places unscrupulous elements have stolen earth from the PWD lands, leaving the bank not only narrow but also weak.

Canal breach

The result of such seepage and weakening of bank is canal breach, which happened twice in the recent past: in 2008 and 2006.

Another important impact of the seepage is that farmers in tail-end areas do not get water and those a little ahead do not get adequate supply. Mr. Subbu says farmers in Mangalapatti, Aravakurichi and other places hardly get water. He attributes it to the seepage. One cusec water irrigates 60 acres in a day, he says and adds that the total loss is over 20,000 acres. LBP canal irrigates 1.03 lakh acres during an agriculture season. The farmer leader says he wants the Public Works Department to bring down the seepage to help tail-end farmers. The Federation too passed a resolution to this effect in July this year.

A PWD official says the Government will soon pass an order appointing a technical expert committee to study the strengthening of the canal.

 From THE HINDU