Fungal disease halves paddy productivity

With paddy harvest under way, farmers in Kiliyur and surrounding villages stare at huge loss as a fungal disease has halved the productivity.

T. Sangilimuthu, a farmer in Kiliyur said that as against the usual yield of a minimum of 30 bags of rice obtained per acre, only half of it could be harvested this year. “We did not know our crop was affected by the disease till we began harvesting. Only then did we notice that half of the plants had to be thrown out,” he said

While many farmers had sowed the Andhra Ponni variety which was known to be affected by the disease, CO (R) 50, a variety labelled by the Tamil Nadu Agricultural University has also been affected, said K. Tamilarasan, a farmer in Koothappar. “The Department of Agriculture discouraged us from sowing Andhra Ponni and asked us to take up other varieties such as the CO (R) 50 and CO (R) 48, and even these have been affected,” he said. Mr. Tamilarasan said that they have bills of purchase of the seed variety and would claim compensation for the losses.

Mr. Tamilarasan said that irregular rains, especially in January ruined the crop in Kiliyur, Koothappar, Natarajapuram and other villages nearby. The Tamil Nadu Agricultural University should come up with better disease-resistant varieties, he said and urged the government to sanction compensation to farmers who had suffered losses. “Those who have taken crop loans have been saved, but many of us have invested our entire life’s earnings into agriculture. The hire charge for harvester machine is ₹3,000 per day. The charge for a tractor is ₹500 per load and agricultural labourers charge ₹35 to clean one bag. When there is a disease-infested crop, all our money is wasted,” he said.

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