Agriculture department authorities under tonnes of pressure to achieve target production
An imbalanced distribution of rainfall during the northeast monsoon season has left several parts of the State scurrying for water and leaving the agricultural activities under tremendous stress.
CHENNAI: Authorities of the Agriculture department have to work overtime, if at all they want to achieve the target of a whopping 100 lakh tonnes of foodgrain production for the current financial year, given the stress the agriculture sector is currently undergoing in Tamil Nadu. Back from a worst year of unprecedented drought, poor flow in the Cauvery and Karnataka’s gross refusal to release water inflicting a big blow to the foodgrain production which plummeted to about 58 lakh tonnes during 2016-17, the Agriculture department has set an ambitious target of 100 lakh tonne for 2017-18, mainly pinning hopes on the forecast of a better monsoon.
However, an imbalanced distribution of rainfall during the northeast monsoon season has left several parts of the State scurrying for water and leaving the agricultural activities under tremendous stress.Rice production has been at the receiving end as paddy crop has dried up in about 5 lakh acres spread across four districts- Ramanathapuram, Sivagangai, Pudukottai and Thanjavur while it is under stress in about 1 lakh acre in parts of four districts, sources said.
This will result in a hole in the overall production of rice causing concern to the authorities of the Agriculture department.The sources stated the share of rice production in the foodgrain mission target is 60 lakh tonnes but it is going to be a tough task to achieve it.However, the officials sound optimistic as far as the target achievement is concerned. In order to make up for the shortfall in rice production, they rely on a bumper harvest of millets and pulses which are less water-intensive.
The share of millets in the overall food production target for the current year is 34 lakh tonnes while pulses account for six lakh tonnes.Production of pulses is also expected to lend a helping hand to make up for dip in paddy cultivation.Millets are predominantly cultivated in Salem, Coimbatore, Tirupur, Krishnagiri, Dharmapuri, Tiruchy, Perambalur, Theni, Dindigul and Thoothukudi while pulses are raised in Cuddalore, Dharmapuri, Krishnagiri, Thoothukudi, Tiruvarur and Villupuram.
The official noted that farmers opting for millets and pulses are being largely supported by certain schemes including Mission for Sustainable Dryland Agriculture, National Agriculture Development Programme, National Food Security Mission and collective farming.
Besides encouraging millets and pulses cultivation, the officials of the department leave no stone unturned to save the crops under stress in one lakh acres. They said efforts are on to divert water available in far-off resources through pumping into the fields wherever pipelines are available and ferrying through tankers to wet the crops.
Top authorities of the department are also touching down on the ground to take stock of the situation and holding review meetings to continuously monitor and chip in with assistance to the worried farmers.
The future of farmers looks bleak for the next financial year because almost all major reservoirs in Tamil Nadu have already gone dry.