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Rain-hit TN farmers petition state govt for compensation

 
Chennai, Nov 23 (IANS) Tamil Nadu farmers who suffered huge losses due to the recent floods have petitioned the state agriculture department for compensation.

During the downpours, around 1,50,000 hectares of cropland were damaged resulting in the loss of rice, Bengal gram, millets and several other crops.

Banana farmers were also affected as the crop loss is pegged at more than 60 per cent due to the rain and floods.

In Cuddalore, farmers said that around 22,000 acres of farmland were inundated after the Thenpennai river overflowed and damaged crops like black gram, corn, cotton, vegetables and fruits.

A black gram farmer, M. Swaminathan of Cuddalore told IANS: "We have already applied for compensation with the district administration and we received intimation that the district administration and the agriculture department will conduct a joint sitting with the farmers' associations and take a decision on the compensation to be given. We are expecting a fair compensation."

On Saturday, at a meeting held in Mayiladuthurai between the farmers association and agriculture department officials, the farmers demanded a compensation of Rs 30,000 per acre for completely damaged crops and Rs 10,000 per acre to re- transplant crops affected by the rain.

The agriculture department will conduct a detailed study of the losses suffered by farmers in various parts of Tamil Nadu.

Recently, at a meeting of ministers and officials at the Tamil Nadu secretariat, Chief Minister M.K. Stalin directed the agriculture minister and chief secretary to conduct a detailed study of the losses suffered by farmers including poultry and cattle farmers.

Agriculture minister M.R.K. Panneerselvam, at a meeting with officials, directed them to take district-wise data on the crop losses, poultry and cattle deaths.

Banana cultivation has been a major source of income for farmers of Tiruchi area and during the rains more than 60 per cent of the crops were destroyed.

Banana Leaf Traders Association president M. Mathialagan told IANS: "Rains have wreaked havoc on banana farming and the excessive water in the fields has led to the yellowing of the leaves which has affected our business."

Other than farm crops, livestock farmers were also badly impacted by the rains, especially the poultry farmers. Tamil Nadu is a major centre of poultry rearing with Namakkal, Coimbatore, Erode, Pollachi and Mayiladuthurai having large poultry farms.

Speaking to IANS, president of the Paddy Farmers Association of Myladuthurai, Mukundadas, said: "It is heartening to note that the Tamil Nadu Chief Minister has taken care of agriculturists and directed the agriculture department to immediately conduct a meeting with the farmers and representatives to provide compensation for crop losses. We welcome the decision and expect the agriculture department to provide fair compensation to us."

Chief of poultry farmers association in Coimbatore area, Manoharan Kumaran, told IANS: "We have lost a lot of chickens in the rains and we were expecting good business during the months of November and December. Each farm in the district has lost more than 3,000 chickens and there are more than 100 farms in the district alone. This is a huge loss and we are expecting the state government to compensate us adequately as we have been a major supplier of chickens and eggs within and outside the state."

Agriculture Minister Panneerselvam told IANS, "We are doing a detailed study on the losses incurred by farmers during the rains and will provide proper compensation after meeting the farmers association leaders and officials. I will be holding meetings with officials and farmers. The Chief Minister has specifically instructed all of us to provide the compensation as soon as possible."

Farmers in areas like Theni, Madurai, Tirunelveli districts where rain destroyed paddy fields are also expecting fair compensation from the government.

A farmer from Cumbom in Theni district who was cultivating paddy in more than 20 hectares told IANS: "We are expecting compensation of Rs 30,000 per hectare but we do not know the ultimate figure that the government officials will arrive at. Anyway, the initiatives of the Chief Minister and the agriculture minister conducting meetings with the representatives of the affected farmers and the bureaucrats and other agriculture department officials is commendable."

--IANS
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