Though a total figure on damage caused by the floods is not available, the initial estimate put at around ₹20,000 crore, includes complete and partial crop damage, loss of livestock and property damage, according to Kerala Agriculture University sources.
Flood-hit districts and areas are some of the best agri production centres. Highlands of Idukki, Wayanad, Pathanamthitta, Kottayam, Kannur, Ernakulam and Kozhikkode district and vast paddy fields of Alappuzha district are the major agri promotion zones of the State.
The damages caused by floods will affect the food security and agricultural economy of the State for the next few years. Farm sector plays a key role as food and employment provider apart from the providing vital ecosystem services, says KAU Vice-Chancellor Dr R. Chandra Babu.
“The short-term, long-term, direct and indirect impacts of the damage cannot be estimated at one stroke. For instance, the chances of pest and disease incidence in survived crops, due to high humidity conditions, could lead to further losses,” he says.
In case of paddy, apart from the loss to standing crop, the flooded fields may not facilitate the next crop on time. Many coconut palms are uprooted and farm lands have been washed away. The home scale and commercial vegetable cultivation, raised in around 50,000 hectares with an eye on improved production and self sufficiency for the Onam season, is completely lost. Nendran banana, an Onam speciality, cultivated in around 60,000 hectares with an estimated output of five-lakh tonnes have been swept away. Nutmeg, one of the most promising crops gaining popularity, being a very fragile one with surface feeders, also suffered serious damages due to flooding.
Devastating floods in Idukki and Wayanad districts totally destroyed the spices, pepper, rubber, coffee, part of tea, and other cash crops. The damage to rubber, which is already plagued by price crash and climatic challenges, and pepper will be more visible in the coming months and will also have a long-term effect in our agricultural economy.
The flood has jeopardised the livelihood of farmers in several districts. Rebuilding primary sector in Kerala will be an extremely difficult task, the VC adds.
“At a time the State is trying to maintain sustainability in milk production, livestock and poultry sector suffered a heavy loss. Roughly one lakh each of milch cattle, goats, pigs and more than four lakh of poultry were lost due to heavy floods,” says Dr T.P. Sethumadhavan, former director of entrepreneurship, Kerala Veterinary and Animal sciences University (KVASU).
Commodity prices may increase due to demand-supply mismatch. Livelihood of more than 70% farmers have been affected. Moreover, loss of rich genetic resources of crop varieties and breeds were occurred, he says.
The KVASU reportedly lost high-producing milch animals, cattle sheds and nuclear stock of Bechur cattle from Thumburmuzhy cattle breeding farm. More than 50,000 dogs including pedigree breeds also were lost in the floods. Estimation of the loss due to destruction of cattle, other animal and poultry houses in the affected areas, will take minimum a fortnight period.
Broiler poultry zones of Perumbavoor, Angamaly, Aluva, Chalakkudy, Thrissur and Alleppy and Pineapple and banana production zones suffered heavy losses. More than 80% of duck flocks of Kuttanad areas perished. Moreover, heavy loss occurred in the fisheries stock including ornamental, rearing and nuclear breeding stock of fishes and hatcheries, Dr. Sethumadhavan notes.