KARAIKAL: Cotton farmers in Karaikal have requested the district administration to give them and farm workers passes to carry out work in the fields in order prevent the crops from pest attack. Cotton cultivation is taken up on about 1,000 acres in the district. Due to lack of maintenance, which includes spraying of pesticides, during the curfew period, most of them are prone to pest attack.
“We have cultivated cotton extensively in Karaikal district after the government assured us back end subsidy. Cotton is a crop which needs to be monitored daily in order to prevent the spread of pests. Pests have to be controlled at the early stages itself before it wreaks havoc to the entire crop. We understand that the curfew was announced to prevent the spread of virus, but we also have to work in our fields to save our crops. Hence, we request curfew passes for us and our farm workers, “said S Rajendran, a farmer-leader.
Most of the farmers have cultivated ‘Bt cotton’, a genetically modified crop, which has gained notoriety in recent years in Tamil Nadu’s cotton belt districts like Perambalur, Ariyalur, and Tiruchy to have attracted pests like bollworm, fungi like powdery mildew, bacteria like black arm, and has resulted in conditions like root rot. However, now the farmers fear that they need to control the pests before they multiply exponentially during the ongoing phase of curfew.
“We do not get fertilisers like urea easily in Karaikal. Many of us have to cross borders, go to places like Tharangambadi and Sembanarkoil, where we are restricted. Our workers also come from districts in TN and are not allowed inside Karaikal. I may not get my usual yield of 20 quintals of cotton if we are not allowed to move,” said S Selvamuthukumarasamy, a farmer-representative from Thirunallar. A senior agriculture department told TNIE that the district administration would take a call on the issues when there is more requirement for access.”