NREGA, farm workers suffer heavy blow due to coronavirus lockdown in Tamil Nadu
Cultivation and harvest of pulses in Nagapattinam and delta districts has taken a hit due to lack of farmworkers.
THANJAVUR/NAGAPATTINAM: Following the lockdown, farm workers under Mahatma Gandhi Rural employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA) in delta region were the worst hit. According to sources, around 40,000 workers were engaged in the works under the scheme till Tuesday evening, when the clampdown came into effect. The works were not taken up from Thursday onwards (as Wednesday was a government holiday). This came at a time when samba cultivation was over and there was no work in fields.
During this period, usually, more farm workers seek work under MGNREGA for their livelihood.
C Ganapathy (58), a farm worker from Thekkur near Orathanadu, a job card holder under MGNREGA, said that his family is sustaining with the grains bought from fair price shop. “We do not know what to do next as there is no work either under MGNREGA or in the fields,” he said. Meanwhile, an official of the Rural Development Department said the relief measures of two days additional wages as announced by the chief minister would be disbursed to those who worked under the MGNREGA in the month of March.
Cultivation takes a hit
Cultivation and harvest of pulses in Nagapattinam and delta districts has taken a hit due to lack of farmworkers. Sources said over 2,20,000 hectares in delta districts including 80,000 hectares in Nagapattinam are affected by lack of farm workers. “We are neither getting harvesters nor workers due to curfew,” said R Natarajan, a farmer, from Iluppur near Kilvelur.
Jasmine farmers in crisis
The jasmine farmers from Vedaranyam are unable to make use of their flowers as the procurement has stopped due to the ongoing curfew “We are facing losses up to Rs 1,000 per day. The flowers fall off and go as waste. Our distress Is going unnoticed,” said R Sivaji, a flower farmer from Karuppambulam.
Banana farmers get help in Tiruchy
Tiruchy: Banana farmers struggling to transport crop to the markets can heave a sigh of relief as the district administration has directed them to register with VAOs to avail certificates to transport produce in private vehicles. Banana is the second-largest crop cultivated in the district. Nendran and Poovan are the most common varieties and also exported to other States, especially Kerala. Vimala, Deputy Director of Horticulture, said the department is helping farmers in transporting bananas to Bengaluru and other major markets. In the past two days, 30 tonnes have been transported. - M S Thanaraj