• Cash crops have recorded higher coverage in Tamil Nadu this time than the previous year, while the coverage of food crops is marginally lower than last year.
  • In respect of the former, the performance in the coverage of cotton and sugar cane has made a difference and in respect of the latter, the damage to the crop on around 37,000 hectares in the Cauvery delta, including 32,000 hectares in Mayiladuthurai district, during the northeast monsoon has brought down the overall coverage.
  • An official of the Department of Agriculture cites the better price prevalent in the open market for cotton and the government’s incentives for sugar cane as the reasons for the enhanced coverage of these crops.
  • As for the damage, the government has sanctioned around ₹50.88 crore for nearly 48,600 farmers.
  • Conceding the official’s point on cotton, V. Sathyanarayanan, a farmer-leader hailing from Tiruvarur district, points out that the difference between the price offered by private traders and the minimum support price (MSP) fixed by the Centre for the medium staple cotton for the present year’s ‘kharif’ season was “huge” at one point of time.
  • Against the MSP of ₹6,080 per quintal (long staple-₹6,380), the price in the open market once ranged from ₹7,000 to ₹ 12,000. “In August and September last year, a number of traders came here from north India and bought the crop at a very high rate,” he says.
  • The Cauvery delta raises cotton during February-July/August. The farmer, however, hastens to add that the current situation with regard to price is on the other extreme and he is one of those who have suffered losses. This is why he wants the Centre to increase the MSP to the realistic levels.
  • The coverage under millets is expected to increase substantially. “After paddy harvest at the end of the samba season in the Cauvery delta, farmers go in for pulses, especially black gram, in a big way,” says C. Ramasamy, former Vice-Chancellor of Tamil Nadu Agricultural University.
  • The official of the Department of Agriculture says that this time, the aim for the post-samba period is four lakh hectares.
  • In the corresponding period last year, 3.07 lakh hectares came under pulses against the normal area of 2.2 lakh hectares. Till now, the government has set apart ₹17 crore for supplying seeds at a 50% subsidy to encourage farmers of the delta to grow pulses, the official adds.


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