INDIA: Banana, casuarina farms too wiped out

by Sruthisagar Yamunan, The Hindu


While paddy as the principal crop has been the focus in the aftermath of the floods that ravaged the northern districts, farmers who had taken to horticulture also report heavy losses.

Across Cuddalore and Kancheepuram, fields of banana, papaya and watermelon have been inundated following rains earlier this month.

In Melakandai in Kancheepuram, agricultural labourers said they haven’t had any work in three weeks since the rains battered and destroyed the banana plantations. In the farm of V. Veeraraghavan, not a single red plantain tree survived the rains.

“Banana is very sensitive to excess rainfall. None of us expected this amount of rain. By this time of the year, I would be sending fruits in trucks to the various buyers. Now I have nothing,” he says. The farmer claims to have spent Rs. 1 lakh (USD 1,500) per acre for the plantation.

Officials said an estimated 1.4 lakh (USD 2,000)m hectares of horticulture crops have been hit across the State. Cuddalore is unique since fruit plantations here, such as the Panruti jackfruit, are highly acclaimed for their quality.

In Puduchatiram and Sethuthopu in Chidambaram, casuarina farms have been wrecked beyond redemption. “Casuarina is a long-duration crop and is harvested only after three years. My farm which had six acres of 2-year-old casurina is now wiped out,” says farmer Ashok Kumar.

Last week, he sold off the damaged trunks for whatever they fetched.

“I was in no position to bargain,” he says as he buys a new stock of saplings from the nursery in Killai.

Like paddy farmers, these farmers too expect the compensation amount to be hiked substantially if the government wants them to bounce back from the losses.

“Otherwise, some of us will have no option but to give up farming. We cannot survive another flood like this one,” Mr. Kumar says.


Source: The Hindu

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