THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Rising mercury and lack of rain have left farmlands high and dry. The situation is so grim it has sent the agricultural sector into a tailspin. The state has incurred 50 percent crop loss because of drought, according to the assessment made by a Central team led by Union Agriculture Joint Secretary Ashwani Kumar.
After touring the drought-hit districts, the team held a meeting with Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan, Revenue Minister E Chandrasekharan, Agriculture Minister V S Sunil Kumar, Water Resources Minister Mathew T Thomas and other officers on Friday.
“We have seen crop damage in several places,” said Ashwani. “In some areas, there is more than 50 per cent loss and, in some places, less. The Centre will support the state in providing relief measures,” he said.
After correlating the data given by the state as well as their findings, the team will submit a detailed report to the Union Agriculture Ministry.
Kumar said the state government has already submitted details with four major areas of thrust -- crops, potable water, repair of irrigation and potable water facilities and animal husbandry. Relief measures will be provided as per the norms of the National Disaster Response Force, he said.
Meanwhile, Pinarayi said the Central team had been briefed about the gravity of the situation as well as the long-term impact of drought on cash crops. He said the government had prioritised potable water and had even thought of cloud seeding.
The visit was undertaken in response to the state government’s request for a comprehensive drought package when a ministerial team comprising Chandrasekharan and Sunil Kumar met the Union Agriculture Minister.
All districts have been declared drought-affected and the state has sought `991 crore as relief from the Central Government.