CHOI MOOLA, WAYANAD: Chandu Pittan walks up to his paddy field at Choimoola where he has been farming for the past 75 years. Worry lines form on his forehead as he looks at the crops damaged by the incessant rain for the last six days and the resultant flood.
Coming off last year’s devastation, this is more than what the 90-year-old farmer belonging to the Kurichiya tribe can handle. “The nature has been turning against us from last year. We haven’t seen such a fury till August 2018. Our calculations about the nature is getting wrong and it’s affecting our farming practices,” says Chandu.
This is not just the story of Chandu. Hundreds of tribal community members in Wayanad who depend on farming for decades to eke out a living find their lives shattered by nature’s fury. The problem is compounded by the fact that these farmers are ignorant of the various crop damage relief schemes. While non-tribal farmers, settled in Wayanad from other parts of the state, insure their crops and process applications from time to claim compensation for loss, tribal farmers depend entirely on the state government dole out.
“It’s not the paddy fields that have been affected. Our pepper and other crops also got destroyed in the last two floods,” says Vellan Pittan, chief of Kurichiya tribe. “So far we have received only `10,000 for the losses suffered in last year’s flood. Apart from crops, we lost our livestock and poultry. Even the houses belonging to our community members were damaged. We don’t know what’s in store for us now. If the situation persists we will not be able to continue with farming,” he adds.