In TN’s water-starved Delta region, a bleak future as samba crops set to fail

Thanjavur district suffered a 66% deficit in rainfall from the North East monsoon.
In TN’s water-starved Delta region, a bleak future as samba crops set to fail
In TN’s water-starved Delta region, a bleak future as samba crops set to fail
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Following disruptions in Cauvery water supply and a non-existent North-East monsoon, farmers in Tamil Nadu’s Delta region have risen up in protest as they are facing crop loss on thousands of acres of land.   

According to The New Indian Express, samba and thalady crops were cultivated in only 2,60,000 acres in Thanjavur district, where farmers generally cultivate around 3,30,000 acres of land.

The district usually receives normal rainfall of around 535mm from the North East monsoon. But the district has only received 183mm rainfall till December 25. The district thus had a deficit of 66% compared to the normal rainfall during the monsoon.

Speaking to The News Minute, R Sukumaran, President of the farmer’s association, Tamil Nadu Vyavasayi Sangam in Thanjavur said, “About 40 farmers have committed suicide in Nagapattinam, Thiruvarur and Thanjavur district in the last one year due to crop failure. There is more than 16 lakh acres of land in the delta region and the farmers cultivated in 8 lakh acres of land. They are all facing crop failure due to lack of water,” he said.

On Monday, about 600 farmers protested in front of the collector’s office in Thanjavur, demanding help in their present condition. “The government has not helped us in any way and we are struggling now,” Sukumaran said.

Even as the farmers’ anger over their lost crops is rising, experts point out that fixing the situation in the long-term requires far-reaching solutions over and above relief measures for crop loss.

K Sivasubramaniyan, Associate Professor at the Madras Institute of Development Studies, believes that cultivation of paddy needs to be regulated according to availability of water. “Paddy cultivation requires water. It should only be done when either Cauvery water is provided by the Karnataka government or the monsoon is normal in the state,” he said.

Stressing on the need to vary the kind of crops grown according to water availability, he said, “They can also sow oil seeds or pulses. They say that the soil is not suitable, but I do not believe that. Other than Nagapattinam, they can be sown in other places.”

He added that in drought situations, farmers need to reduce the extent of land cultivated. Moreover, in a drought situation, farmers should give up a crop season rather than lose crops to drought. “The central government should ask farmers, whenever there is a drought situation, to only cultivate in one season.”

Simultaneously, Sivasubramaniyan added, the government should invest in irrigation technologies. “Paddy requires water, the government should help them to do drip irrigation. The government has to do these basic things. But for this also, ground water needs to be available,” he said.

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