Chennai, March 29: For Iyya Kannu and his family, it will be first time in six decades that they are not growing summer paddy this year. They own some 20 acres in the key delta area of Tiruchi district in Tamil Nadu.
“Last week, we farmers in Musiri, Thottiyam in Tiruchi district and Kulithalai in Karur district decided not to plant summer paddy,” he told Business Line over phone.
The summer paddy or short-term Kurvai crop is planted in March and harvested in June.
It makes up one-fifth of Tamil Nadu’s rice production of around 5.5 million tonnes. The country produces a little over 100 mt.
“There is no water to grow any crop. Even the standing banana crop is facing problem,” says Iyya Kannu.
Though the storage level in the 84 major reservoirs in the country is slightly higher than last year, it is at a decade’s low in Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh and Kerala. In Tamil Nadu, the situation is grave with the water levels in five of the six major reservoirs being less than 10 per cent of the capacity.
Overall, in the country, the storage level is 35 per cent of the 154.42 billion cubic metres. Compared with last year, it is two percentage points higher.
The delta area in Tamil Nadu gets water from the Mettur dam. The water level in the dam is only seven per cent of its capacity of 2.65 billion cubic metres.
“The current situation is worse than what we witnessed in 2004-05,” said Manikutty Iyer, Secretary of Tiruchi District Banana Growers Association.
While farmers say nearly one lakh hectares under kuruvai cultivation could be affected, State Agriculture Department officials deny the water shortage could have any impact. A little over three lakh hectares come under kuruvai paddy.
“We usually don’t encourage farmers to go for summer paddy,” said an official, who did not wish to be identified.
“I am 66-years-old. Since childhood, I have seen my family grow summer paddy. It is exclusively done in the Tiruchi delta area since we get some water,” said Iyya Kannu. “We plant groundnut in June but a question mark hangs over that too,” he said.
“Farmers do plant summer paddy depending on the seepage but it is a high risk venture,” the official said.
The problem for Tamil Nadu this year is that due to prolonged dry period the Samba and Navarai crops that make up 80 per cent of the State’s paddy production have also been affected.
“Yield from Samba is lower due to water scarcity,” the official said.
S.A. Sukumar, President of Tamil Nadu Banana Growers’ Association, said standing banana crop in nearly 50,000 hectares faces problem.
“The crop is mid-way through its life stage and we are short of water,” he said.
According to Manikutty, farmers could go in for borewells but power shortage is another problem.
“We can also use diesel pumpsets but the fuel’s price is also rising, leading to higher production costs,” he said.
In Andhra Pradesh, around five lakh hectares under paddy were affected due to water shortage. However, summer paddy is not sown in the State.
Courtesy : http://www.thehindubusinessline.com/industry-and-economy/agri-biz/tn-del...