Poor rains and water shortage in the region is forcing farmers to depend on commercial water tankers to meet irrigation needs. Several farmers are forced to spend over ₹1000 to buy water to prevent drying of crops.
Farmers in Abinavam, Ettapur, Kannankurichi and various other areas in Salem district are the worst hit due to poor rains in the region. Though Salem received widespread rains during summer, it has not helped farmers meet their irrigation needs, forcing many to buy water twice a day through tankers.
They mostly depend on borewells or farm wells and in borewells, the water level is below 1000 ft, say some of the farmers.
Abinavam S. Jayaraman, a progressive farmer here said, “over the past five years, the region has been receiving poor rainfall, leading to drought. Farmers were hopeful about rains this season but we are forced to buy water in tankers to prevent crops from drying up and to feed cattle.” Mr. Jayaraman said that for the past 20 days or so, he has been buying water in 1000-litre tanks twice a day just to meet the water requirements of his 15 cattle.
“I used to meet the water needs of my farm using a percolation pond set up here. Now, it has dried up. Though the region received rains, none of them happened to be rain catchment areas hence, farmers aren’t benefited,” he said. Mr. Jayaraman, who has cultivated coconut, betel nuts and other crops in over 10 acres lost about 700 coconut trees in this season due to drought.
Even modern water management techniques like drip irrigation, usage of rain guns and many others hasn’t helped farmers. “Lack of rains and poor water management has pushed farmers to this situation. If this continues, many would migrate from agriculture as cost of production would increase,” said another farmer.
In an area where most of the farmers grow coconut and areca nut, many have decided to change the crops raised from long-standing ones to short-term crops such as baby corn and vegetables.
A. Chandramohan, State secretary of All India Kisan Mahasabha said, “the region has been receiving less rainfall for the past several years and this may lead to a change in crop pattern. Many have started moving to cultivating dry land crops like corn since they do not require huge quantities of water.”