Chennai: The failure of two consecutive monsoons from 2015 is likely to push the price of paddy by at least 20 per cent during the Pongal season next year. The overall production of rice in Delta and other districts has been hit more than 40 per cent.
Farmers had been relying on ground water for cultivation, but now they face a situation where the ground water is also drying up.
While ground water was extracted at 40 feet earlier, following the drought, one has to go as low as 200ft to 600 ft in the delta region to get water. This is leading to seawater intrusion affecting the crops.
Sowing of seeds got delayed due to shortage of water and the November rains flooded the area completely damaging the crops. This caused huge loss to the farmers and paddy is the best crop for cultivation in the region.
Arupathy S. Kalyanam, President of the Thanjavur Delta farmers said, "Agro climatic zonal cropping, judicial water management and supporting irrigational needs, are to be addressed to save the plight of the farmers."
He added that the drought situation has resulted in many farmers giving up on farming and moving to cities to look for better opportunity for their survival. With the ground water drying, the farmers are in a dilemma as to how to face the situation.
Sources in the industry said price of paddy will increase by at least 20 per cent when the harvest season begins during Pongal in January 2018.
Thachina Murthy, researcher at the MS Swaminathan Research Foundation, said farmers should work as an integrated unit and more varieties of crops, particularly rice that can cope with the drought situation, needs to be introduced. Most of the farmers tend to cultivate fine variety of rice, which requires more water for cultivation, he added.
He said that farm support mechanisms should be introduced to help farmers and technology should be looked at to cope with the current situation. The increase in price of rice is only benefiting traders and not farmers....