GONE WASTE: A farmer displays his crop of bitter cucumber at Vellanad, near Thiruvananthapuram.
They unwittingly grew the unpalatable variety
THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: It is harvest time, but vegetable farmers at Vellanad are a dejected lot. This year, the yield has turned out to be a bitter one for them.
The farmers have been let down by the cucumber seeds bought from the College of Agriculture, Vellayani. The seeds were actually of the unpalatable, bitter variety. Months spent sowing, irrigating and tending to the plants have all gone waste.
The farmers are now preparing to dispose of tonnes of cucumber harvested from the fields. Many of them find it difficult to come to terms with the heavy loss they have incurred.
Mohanachandran, a farmer, says, “Expecting a good harvest, I had even pawned my wife’s jewellery for a loan to grow cucumber on a one-acre plot taken on lease. I do not know what to do now. How will I repay my loan? The authorities at the College of Agriculture say they will replace the seeds. Who will compensate the loss I have incurred?”
The first indication that something had gone wrong came about 20 days ago when Mr. Mohanachandran’s children reported a bitter taste in the tender gourd. The seeds were sown in the first week of January.
Mr. Mohanachandran is only one of 10 farmers in the area who are sharing the bitter experience. “Earlier, we used to buy seeds from Mitra Niketan. This year, we decided to try out the high-yielding seeds promoted by the agriculture university. Many of us spent a good amount on labour to prepare the ground for cultivation,” he says. “Officials at the College of Agriculture said the seeds were procured from the research centre at Kayamkulam. They have promised to look into the issue.”
The farmers are incensed at the apathetic attitude of officials. “Despite running from pillar to post, we have not receive a concrete assurance. We are forced to leave the crop in the fields in the hope that it will be accepted as evidence for compensation,” Mr. Mohanachandran says.
Vellanad panchayat president M. Rajendran said the Kerala Agriculture University was bound to compensate the farmers for the loss. “The university has agreed to despatch a team to study the situation.
The Agriculture Officer has also reported the matter to Nedumangad MLA Mangode Radhakrishnan.”
Mr. Rajendran said the panchayat would consider moving an official resolution seeking adequate compensation for the farmers.