Tamil Nadu farmers face uncertain future after rains destroy crops

Farmers complain of poor compensation by insurance

Politics

November 17, 2021

/ By / New Delhi

Tamil Nadu farmers face uncertain future after rains destroy crops

Over 145,000 acres of standing crops across Tamil Nadu have been submerged in rain during this monsoon (Photo: Krishna Moorthy)

Heavy rain over the past few days in Tamil Nadu has led to destruction of thousands of hectares of land. Farmers are looking to recover remaining crops, hoping that they will receive compensation from the state government.

After the problems caused by the Covid-19 pandemic, which disrupted farming extensively, farmers of Tamil Nadu were looking to recover from their losses but now the heavy rain have thrashed all their expectations.

“Crops on over 145,000 acres cultivated during the samba season and over 6,000 acre of horticulture crops across Tamil Nadu have been submerged in rain during this monsoon,” said Agriculture Minister M R K Panneerselvam.

Around 170 km away from Chennai, farmers in Viluppuram and nearby villages are worried over losses due to excessive rain which damaged their crops.

“As I faced losses by cultivating paddy crop from last few years, this year I chose to cultivate both wheat and paddy on my field to gain some profit but again this year I am going to end up with loss as now the unexpected change in weather has destroyed my crops,” Krishna Moorthy, 39, farmer, who lives in Pasar around 73km from Villupuram tells Media India Group.

“My wheat crop has been ruined, I just have a hope that if there is no rain at all for at least a week, there is a 10 pc of chance to recover them. I have 8 acres of land, on one side I have sown wheat and on another side I have sown rice. We started to cultivate our crops in October, and all was going good until the rain came. Every time the state government says that they will give some amount as a compensation, but from last three years I didn’t received any money,” explains Moorthy.

Krishna Moorthy is not alone, almost every farmer is afraid that unseasonal or heavy rains will again ruin their hard work. As climate change takes hold of India, as well as the rest of the world,  large-scale crop losses due to excess or no rains at all in different regions is likely to become an issue.

“It’s a good time to cultivate paddy crops but we didn’t expect this. Now my whole crop is almost immersed in water. Just to cultivate and sowing the paddy crop I spend around INR 25,000 which includes ploughing and other expenditure. Already over the last two years we ended up with losses from farming. But now there is no other way to recover all the crops, only it can be recovered using chemicals in the whole field or have to wait still it dries up,” Anandvel, another farmer residing in Pasar tells Media India Group.

“We have a total of 3 hectares, we started to cultivate our crops in October with plan to harvest in January. But it’s a kind of bad luck for us, as every year due to rains, we end up facing almost 50 pc of loss every time,” says Anandvel.

Farmers are worried over losses due to excessive rain which damaged their crops (Photo: Krishna Moorthy)

As it is the season to raise paddy crops of different varieties like Samba and Thaladi which are relatively long-term paddy crops, and few more like wheat and sugarcane but the unseasonal and excess rains often turn out to be a bane for farmers, damaging their standing crops on thousands of acres.

“We work day and night in the fields but such natural disasters end our hope to get some profit from farming. Almost around 3 weeks ago, I started to cultivate paddy crops. Now my crops are sunk in water and there is a lot of water logging in my farm,” says Shantha, doing farming for almost 40 years, lives in Villupuram district tells Media India Group.

“I am a single mother and I don’t know anything apart from farming. My sons also help me in farming. For over two years, due to Covid-19 pandemic, we were not able to earn any money. Our only hope and revenue lies in farming, but every time we face losses and we don’t even get the money that we actually put in the farms to cultivate our crops. This is the main reason now a days farmers are searching for other work,” says Shantha.

Loss of Farmers

After the heavy rains, Tamil Nadu’s revenue and disaster management minister K K S S R Ramachandran said that the government would provide compensation to the farmers. But the farmers are far from reassured by such declarations.

“It’s a waste of time to wait for the compensation money from the government. Even though I pay insurance premiums for my crop every year, I don’t receive any compensation from anyone for the damage done to our crops over the past three years,” claims Moorthy.

Moorthy is not alone in this belief. Another farmer, Anandvel agrees wholeheartedly. “They promise to give 50 pc of amount we spend on our crops as a compensation money, but we get much less and after long delays. For instance, for the losses last year, I received only INR 3,000 and that too only last month. This is lower than the premium that I pay for farm insurance. I am not blaming the government but if they can’t provide any money to the farmers, they just have to stop saying it in front of media too. I am yet to see how much I will lose this year, but last year I lost around INR 25,000,” he says.

“It is not just about cultivating the crops by buying seeds, but also we spend money to buy other inputs like fertlisers and pesticides. I have total eight acres of land, just imagine the amount I have to spend on my field. For manure, we use cow dung and urea and the latter we have to buy at a high price. Moreover, as I don’t own a tractor, I have to get it ploughed by renting a tractor and that costs INR 7000 each time. In addition, for paddy, I need to hire farm labourers at INR 900 per day per person. That gives you an idea of how much a farmer has to spend to get a proper harvest,” details Shantha.

The farmers say that over the past few years, due to poor crop prices as well as poor harvest due to climate change and other factors, there is hardly any farmer who makes a sizeable profit for agriculture and most are simply happy to recover their costs and have the crop to feed them and their families. “Over the past few years, there is hardly any farmer who is still farming to gain any meaningful profit, but everyone is just praying to at least get back the money they are spending on their own land,” says Shantha.

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