Mayiladuthurai farmers celebrate bitter Pongal as monsoon crop loss delays harvest
Around 66,000 hectares of samba and thaladi paddy were cultivated in the district.
MAYILADUTHURAI: With a delayed harvest caused by crop loss during the monsoons, Farmers from Mayiladuthurai have had a less-than ideal Pongal, and many of them have even had to skip the traditional rite of offering rice cooked using freshly-harvested paddy and offering it to the Sun God. "We usually start our harvest in the first week of January. But this year, we've had to regrow our crops and they can be harvested only by February-March, so we weren't able to celebrate Pongal with the usual excitement," said Sadasivam, a farmer from Kaattur in Kollidam block.
Around 66,000 hectares of samba and thaladi paddy were cultivated in the district. The heavy rains that lashed the district on November 2 and 11 inundated the crops for several weeks in blocks like Sirkazhi, Kollidam and Sembanarkoil, around 32,000 hectares of crops were damaged in the latter instance. Sirkazhi block received 22cm of rain on November 2 and 44cm on November 11, the highest in 122 years. J Sekar, joint director of the Agriculture Department said, Of the 32,000 hectares of crops that were lost, farmers have gone for re-sowing and replanting in around 20,000 hectares. The harvest will pick up in the coming weeks."
Chief Minister MK Stalin visited flood-affected areas on November 14 and inspected the damaged crops. The government announced that the farmers would be paid Rs 13500 per hectare (Rs 5463 per acre) as compensation for crop loss. However, the farmers had demanded Rs 74,131 per hectare (Rs 30,000 per acre). "The announced relief is not sufficient to make up for the loss we suffered. We are still faced with losses and thus had a below par festival celebration, let alone cultivating and harvesting."