NAGERCOIL: Farmers in the district are a worried lot. A look at the inundated paddy fields and inundated banana plantations speaks a sad tale of loss and imminent financial crisis for them. For two years, they braved drought and when it was time to reap the dividends of their toil, Ockhi struck.
Sornappan, a 63-year-old farmer, who has been farming for the past 40 years near Xavier Colony, says, “I have been cultivating paddy on two acres and have faced floods of 1992, 2007 and 2010. Every flood, we incur losses. Even officials fail to release relief funds more than `5,000. While the local village officials visit us, none of the ward councillor or politician has reviewed the damage we sustained. This rain was different from the floods we faced as the water clogged paddy crops and even though it looks good, the yield will be affected because of excess water. This is a case of look being deceptive. We shall lose out on compensation this time as well.”
As many paddy crops in the district were transplanted and were at flowering stage, one of the farmer who avoided sowing this year, I Sundar, said, “As we faced loss for two years, we avoided sowing this year. However, the field is filled with water and we are working on draining it to start sowing. Many of us are in fear of the information that rain will continue in the next few days. We hope that it is not a cyclone and we survive this.” Sundar cultivates paddy on 10 acres.
He has earmarked a few acres for banana and coconut. Regarding the relief funds that will be provided for damaged crops, Sundar’s father Iyyappa Konar (70) said, “The government assured the farmers to provide fund, however, we have to furnish certificates and documents. This would affect our claims.”
Pointing to the losses suffered by the banana planters, Martin, a 45-year-old farmer from Karaiyappan Kuzhi, says, “While our paddy survived the rains as it was transplanted, plantations, spices and pepper did not. Even though I have completed my studies in law, I entered farming due to interest. With back to back losses, we do not know if my next generation will continue in this profession.”
Damage to plantations
Gagandeep Singh Bedi, Agricultural Production Commissioner and Principal Secretary said, “As many as 3,696 acres of crops were affected in the district and 1,500 hectares of banana plantation were damaged. Steps are being taken to continue the inspection in villages and the damage count will be taken across the district. The farmers will be given relief soon.”