PERAMBALUR: S Nehru Chandrakasan, a farmer from Perambalur’s Nattarmangalam village, was distraught after he destroyed his one-acre small onion cultivation which was affected by basal rot disease. The loss was not new to him. Last year too, he faced a similar situation when he ended up destroying the crops using a tractor.
Another farmer R Muthukumar, who planted shallots on his two-acre land on Alathur-Chettikulam road too resorted to the same. “I have spent a total of Rs 70,000 on the cultivation. It is close to harvest time and my one-acre cultivation is completely destroyed by the disease. Usually, we get 70 sacks of shallot per acre. Now, it is very difficult even to get 5-8 sacks. Hence, I decided to destroy it and I do not know how I’m going to repay my loans without any yield,” he lamented.
Perambalur district topped the table in shallot cultivation for over a decade and farmers in more than 150 villages are into shallot cultivation. This year, farmers have taken it up in over 3,200 acres, out of which about 200 acres have been affected by the basal rot disease on various villages, including Nattarmangalam, Irur, Pommanapadi, Echankadu and Chettikulam in Perambalur district, according to sources. In this situation, continuous rain in the last week played spoilsport.
Last year, over 2,400 acres were affected and it is said that none of the officials came forward to inspect the affected fields. Shallots in the district have been laid waste to the disease for the last two consecutive years and finding no solution to the problem, farmers are left with no option other than destroying the crops. They demanded the authorities to procure the crops at a high price and find a cure to the disease. “No other crops can be grown in this area.
Monkeys and peacocks damage it. We are afraid to plant onions again. This apart, seed onions are in shortage in the areas. Officials must come forward and take action, otherwise, our livelihood will be severely affected,” said Muthukumar. Chandrakasan pointed out to the possible increase in the price of shallots in the markets. “It will be sold at Rs 45-60 per kg in markets and retail shops.
The district administration should come up with a remedy and also inspect our lands,” he said. When TNIE contacted Deputy Director of Horticulture AG Fathima, she said, “I took charge recently. I am aware of this issue. We had a meeting about this recently. We will inspect the fields within a week and carry out an awareness campaign.”