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Mixed reactions to direct sowing of paddy

Image result for direct sowing of paddy trichy

(Representative image)

Opinion in the farming circles in the Cauvery delta districts is divided over the State Government’s not-so-subtle encouragement for the farmers to go in for direct sowing in the current samba and thalady paddy cultivation season.

While the State Government’s Department of Agriculture points to the unpredictable nature of water availability to see through the normally long samba cultivation, farmers argue that direct sowing could be resorted only in certain areas of the delta while in the majority of the region nurseries have to be raised and transplanted.

“While we welcome the long and short-term measures being taken by the State government to help farmers reduce dependency on water for irrigating in the traditional flooding method by opting for alternative means of cultivating the staple paddy crop, we are at a loss to understand how the authorities could fix five lakh acres as target under direct sowing,’’ observes V. Jeevakumar of the Tamil Nadu Vivasaya Thozhilalar Sangam.

It would be good if the authorities resorted to a practical evaluation of the ground realities, take sincere steps to get our due share of Cauvery water from Karnataka, take into account the traditional paddy cultivation practices and apply recent findings to arrive at a possible solution to tide over the irrigation crisis. Moreover, direct sowing would entail loss of jobs for poor landless agricultural labourers, he points out.

But Mannargudi S. Ranganathan, general secretary of the Tamil Nadu Cauvery Delta Farmers Welfare Association displays thumbs-up sign for direct sowing, saying if correct practices were adopted then direct sowing is the cheapest and the best method for paddy cultivation.

The direct sowing method reduces longevity of the paddy crop by a clear fortnight minimising water usage. Land preparation especially levelling the field is important for direct sowing. Areas where soil could retain water and moisture are best suited for direct sowing method. I believe around four to 4.5 lakh acres, comprising half of Cauvery basin and a vast majority of the Vennar basin is suitable for direct sowing, Mr. Ranganathan reasons.

Mr. Ranganathan, who recently turned 80, recalls that a pioneering farmer Vaisool Karunai revived the direct sowing practice in his farm near Madapuram in 1987 after which it was taken to the notice of the State Government that popularised the method in the following years. But he too cautions that there must be no room for complacency and sluggishness lest the fields and crops would be covered by weeds in no time.

By all means, the State Government’s push for direct sowing is fraught with some inherent danger but the delta farmers have practically few options before them in the face of inadequate time and water availability for a full length samba. We are gambling with direct sowing and hope for the best. I can’t say whether the State Government’s target for five lakh acres under direct sowing is good or right but whatever the authorities plan, it must be for the good of the farmers, observes S. Durairaj of Erukkattur village in Tiruvarur district who has raised direct sown paddy on two of the five acres he has been cultivating.


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