KARAIKAL: Farmers in Karaikal living in fear of their cultivation taking a hit from the lack of availability of Cauvery water and resorting to cattle rearing as an alternative means of livelihood demand the Puducherry government to release balanced cattle feed at subsidy, which they said has been done so for the past three months.
R Aiyyappan, a farmer from Nedungadu, said, "Our bovines are lacking sufficient nutrition in the absence of subsidised fodder. We are unable to mitigate the loss of livelihood in paddy cultivation through cattle farming due to the missing government scheme."
According to the animal husbandry department, the farmers were receiving 50 kg of calf feed worth Rs 1405 and cattle feed worth Rs 1,380 at a subsidised rate of Rs 351 and Rs 345 respectively from the government on a monthly basis. The Puducherry government was buying cattle feed from a manufacturer in the Cuddalore district and selling it to farmers at a subsidised rate.
Earlier this year, hundreds of farmers across Puducherry and Karaikal signed a petition urging them to either change the fodder brand or transfer the subsidy amount directly via direct benefit transfer (DBT). Former agriculture minister R Kamalakannan who led the signature movement said, "It is important that the Puducherry government give farmers quality feed at subsidy.
The farmers can choose to buy their feed if they are given the subsidy amount directly." An animal husbandry department official in Karaikal said, "The government is considering releasing the subsidy amount as per the representation, hence the delay in farmers receiving fodder." BG Somu, a farmer representative from Karaikal, said, "While the Puducherry government must act soon to support cattle farming, it must supply fodder rather than money. It is not certain if the DBT amount would be used to buy cattle fodder."