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

Tamilnadu: Paddy harvest on 75,000 acres has been stalled

Farmers’ association vice-chief blames shortage of manpower

CUDDALORE: Shortage of manpower has stalled paddy harvest on 75,000 acres in the tail-end delta region of Kattumannarkoil and Chidambaram blocks, according to V. Kannan, vice-president of Cauvery Delta Farmers’ Association.

He told The Hindu that harvest in 50 per cent of the total of 1.5 lakh acres under paddy was affected or was not taking place at all for want of adequate farm hands. The belated harvest would not only reduce the yield but also the quality of grains.

During normal time, the average paddy yield per acre would be 1.25 tonne, but the delayed harvest would cut down the yield prospects by 20 per cent. Therefore, it would lead to an economic stress on farmers. For every acre, at least 20 workers would be required for 10-15 days to harvest the paddy and thrash out the grains. But, it was almost impossible to find so many labourers because youth detest farm jobs, Mr. Kannan said.

They were not inclined to work in fields from morning to evening for meagre wages and opting for jobs in the better-paid construction industry. The average age of farm worker was now 50 years and above and, therefore, productivity expected could not be high. Harvesting machinery too was in short supply, Mr. Kannan said. Even if available, the rent or hire charges were high. A farmer would have to shell out Rs. 1,050 to Rs. 1,900 an hour for hiring a tyre harvester and Rs. 1,400 to Rs. 1,900 an hour for chain harvester.

For lack of alternative solution, even small farmers having less than four acres would have to engage the machinery. Mr. Kannan opined that such a situation would force the farmers to quit farming.

The situation has to be reversed or it would affect food availability and market prices of essential commodities.

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

India – Erode – Delay in water release brings down area under paddy cultivation

Farmers left with no option but to wait for samba season

ERODE: Paddy cultivation in areas under Kalingarayan Canal is down by at least 5,000 hectares. At least that is what sources in the Agriculture Department are telling ‘The Hindu’.

The sources attribute the reason to the delay in releasing water into Kalingarayan Canal. “The delay worried farmers, who hesitated to start paddy cultivation.”

Hard times: Delay in release of water into Kalingarayan Canal has brought down paddy cultivation.

Hard times: Delay in release of water into Kalingarayan Canal has brought down paddy cultivation.

In June this year, before the start of the Kuruvai season, the Public Works Department was unsure of releasing water into the irrigation channel because of the poor storage position in the Bhavani Sagar Dam.

Following pressure from farmers, who sought water to save standing crops, the department agreed to release water for about 20 days as special wetting. It released the water on June 25.

At the time of the water release, farmers, under the impression that the water would flow for only 20 days, did not prepare land for paddy cultivation. They focused only on saving sugarcane.

But then, within 10 days of the department opening the shutters, monsoon activity picked up in the Nilgris, which lead to a good inflow into the Bhavani Sagar Dam.

The storage position increased to such an extent that the department continued to release water. The farmers, caught unawares, were left with no choice but to wait for the samba season.

This delay in releasing water into the canal, poor storage in the dam and other factors contributed to farmers not starting sowing, says V.M. Velayudham, president, Kalingarayan Canal Farmers Association. He says had the farmers known that the dams storage position would improve and department would release water, they would have gone ahead and tilled and prepared the land to raise paddy nursery.

The farmers are keeping their fingers crossed and hoping that the samba season will be good with rains in time to get a good harvest.

By Karthik Madhavan – THE HINDU