TIRUCHY: Months of toil came to naught for hundreds of farmers who cultivated Andhra Ponni paddy this season, proving the Mahatma’s words, ‘Earth provides enough to satisfy every man’s need, but not every man’s greed,’ true.
Tempted by the prospects of huge profit, several farmers opted for the BPT 5204 variety, allegedly ignoring the advisory of the agriculture department. They paid the price as a major portion of cultivation was damaged by pest and rice blast disease, leaving very fewer grains to be harvested.
Sources estimate that crop on at least 10,000 acres in Tiruchy district, especially Lalgudi, Andanallur and Manachanallur, have been affected. Private traders and rice mills stopped buying from these farmers, fearing they would end up with more husk than rice. Whoever is willing is offering very low price, farmers complain.
Officials washed their hands off this fiasco saying the agriculture department stopped selling seeds of the BPT 5204 variety in 2017 because it was not conducive for the delta districts.
An advisory was issued to farmers to not cultivate the variety, they claimed. But abundant availability of water in Cauvery this year was a temptation farmers could not resist. Hoping for a better price, which the variety enjoys, farmers bought seeds from private players. The gamble failed miserably. What’s more, most farmers did not insure the crop.
The damage was not visible in the initial stages. "We usually get 35 - 40 bags containing 62 kilos each, but this season we hardly got 8 - 10 bags of paddy. We are forced to sell this at throwaway prices in the retail market. We get around Rs 30,000 to Rs 35,000 for 35-40 bags, but now hardly get Rs 10,000." said Subramani, a farmer.
TMC farmers' wing president Puliyur Nagarajan appealed to the State government to announce compensation for the affected farmers.
Rice blast is a fungal disease that affects leaves, leaf collar, stem nodes, neck, earheads and internodes of crops