KALPETTA: After prolonged struggle to save the pepper farms from the pouring rains and rising flood waters, now hundreds of farmers of Mullankolly, a border panchayat on the banks of River Kabani in Wayanad district is cleaning their farms off pepper vines and supporting trees for pepper as they have lost faith in ‘black gold’.
Low production, hostile climate and lethargy of officials made farming community to switch over to short-term crops. In many farm fields farmers are busy uprooting the remnants of plants and trees to convert land for short-term crops in tune with the Deccan Climate that’s invading into the Nilgiri biosphere, though slowly.
A farmer at Krigannur Swami K.S. has cleaned about one acre land off wilted pepper and also uprooted trees planted as supporting poles for pepper creepers. Swami told DC that he had lost faith in the pepper cultivation as the debt is on the rise for farmers due to hostile climatic conditions, falling prices and lethargy of officials.
“None of them will help us as we are poor farmers”, he said, adding that he was expecting 500 kilograms of pepper this year but lost it midway in the floods. The plants that survived the floods have wilted down in the scorching heat now, he added.
Not only Swami, but many farmers are in the process of backing out from pepper and other long-term crops, switching to short-term ones. Swami’s relatives also are in the process of cleaning pepper plants from three acre land. “They were expecting about 2500 kilograms but received almost nothing”, Swami added.
“We have been telling again and again to the officials and political leaders to ensure irrigation facility for the farmers”, said Sajan K, another farmer in the area. “The soil in the region is unique which would change its character soon after the monsoon ends”, he said.
“Many of the pepper farms now reminds us of an agrarian graveyard, he said, adding that if the trend continues the land once known for its quality pepper will soon have no pepper farmers left.
According to the data of the agriculture department and Mullankolly village panchayat as many as 6550 applications of farmers were received for crop loss after the floods which were submitted to the district administration after proper crosschecking by the agriculture officials.
Once known as the pepper basket of South India, the total estimated loss at the Mullankolly panchayat alone, post deluge, has been estimated at `150 crore....