MADURAI: As many as 20 farmers of Peraiyur village, in Madurai district, have alleged that the agriculture department sold them barnyard millet (Kuthiraivali) seeds mixed with a large portion of cattle weed, which has allegedly spoiled the majority of the harvest this season.
One farmer even claimed that only about one out of 100 crops cultivated turned out to be a millet crop.
It has been weeks since the farmers from Peraiyur near Usilampatti have been alleging adulteration in the sale of barnyard millet (Kuthiraivali) seeds provided by the agriculture department.
Cultivators have alleged that almost all fields in which the apparent millet seeds were planted, gave way to weeds during harvest.
Barnyard millet is one of the major millet crops cultivated in the district, especially in rain-fed areas of Usilampatti and Thirumangalam.
Speaking to TNIE, M Kannan, a farmer from Peraiyur, said, "As many as 20 farmers bought seeds from the agriculture department outlet in T Kallupatti. We have to spend `3,500 for each acre. All farmers planted the seeds in around 100 acres of land. It has been two-and-a-half months since we planted the seeds, and were shocked to see that only one out of 100 crops is that of barnyard millet. The rest is cattle weed."
Kannan said he cultivated the millet on around 10 acres of land. "Usually, we get a harvest of seven quintals per acre, but this year we got only half a quintal per acre. In total, I have spent almost `30,000 per acre and ended up facing losses," he added.
A couple of weeks ago, former minister and AIADMK functionary R B Udhayakumar submitted a petition to the district collector to address the issues and provide compensation to the farmers.
Accordingly, farmers reiterated their demands, and additionally urged action against those responsible for adulteration of seeds, during the grievance meeting last week.
Some farmers have said that their complaints have fallen on deaf ears. When contacted, senior officials from the agriculture department said that farmers who cleared their fields of weed received a proper yield in the same area. Based on the complaints, however, a special team has been deputed to assess the crops and submit a report.