KOZHIKODE: Barely a week before the great deluge, Leena George, a retired headmistress and native of Mattur near Kalady, had won the best farmer award in the comprehensive farming category from the local panchayat. Leena has been pursuing her passion in agriculture and aquaculture for the past 20 years. The flood not only washed away crops, but also a large number of fish reared in ponds.
“There were more than 1,000 fish, most of them weighing up to 5-6 kg. We were preparing for harvest when the flood hit. We suffered losses worth Rs 6-7 lakh,” she said. During the flood, Leena’s family was forced to shift to a relative’s house. By the time the water receded, a majority of the fish had escaped. Some got trapped in the net and died. Later, Leena heard reports of exotic fish, which had escaped from her ponds, being found dead in Mattur.
According to a Fisheries Department report, the aquaculture sector suffered a loss of Rs 174.80 crore. It is estimated that about 587 lakh fish from domestic farms were lost. “Most of the aquaculture farms were washed away and aquatic livestock in private ponds were lost. During the flood, most of the farms and hatcheries were submerged. It also damaged fishing equipment,” the report added.
The aquaculture sector had been gaining momentum for the past two years, but the flood has stalled all progress. Private players reported a loss of Rs 137.76 crore, while government-owned farms and hatcheries suffered a loss of Rs 18.98 crore and fisher households lost Rs 14.74 crore.
The assessed loss to fishing inputs such as traditional crafts, fishing nets, outboard and inboard engines etc is Rs 2.58 crore. The flood inflicted serious damage to the micro enterprise establishments of fisherwomen self-help groups, who reportedly suffered a loss of Rs 73.92 lakh.
The flood caused irreparable damage to infrastructure such as protective bunds, sluices, pumps, aerators, stored fish feed etc. The one paddy one fish culture, shrimp farming and carp culture were the most affected.
A total of 16,872 farmers have been affected, directly resulting in the actual output loss of 6,127 metric tonnes. However, there will be a decrease of 16,246 metric tonnes of anticipated production in the current financial year.
“The loss due to flood in the aquaculture sector will affect total fish production in the current year,” says the report. Thrissur district is the most affected with a cumulative loss of Rs 70 crore. Alappuzha and Kottayam districts follow with losses of Rs 22.67 crore and Rs 16 crore.