May 27, 2017
The drought is expected to hit grape farmers in Mathampetty hard as the yield may be more than halved. According to farmers their produce this time may drop to 7-9 earlier.
Farmers in Mathampetty have been into grape cultivation for the last 35 years. It is only the Muscat variety they grow here. On selection of the variety, agriculture technical adviser of Grape Growers Association M Manickam says, “Muscat has high medical value. It is good for digestion and cures neuro problems.
The association is involved in giving technical guidance to farmers and helping them market their produce. But problems in getting sufficient water for the crop has been a problem for the last three years and worsened by the drought this year, says Manickam.
While a good yield can fetch the farmers a good price, the flip side is that any damage to the crop will mean a massive loss in revenue. Crop damage in an acre is estimated to mean a loss of Rs 1 lakh to the farmer. And with the drought this year, farmers say they will earn much less than they have invested this season.
“If it doesn’t rain in the next 90 days, it will not just be grapes, but also other crops that will wither away,” says expert in grape cultivation K Thangavelu.
Grapes sell at Rs 25-35 a kg. There has been a 50 per cent drop in grape production owing to water scarcity which has been on for some time. Around 10 years ago, the yield from an acre was 2,000 boxes which over the last five years has dropped to 1,500. This could fall further to less than 1,000 this year, he added.
Most of the farmers say that despite the Centre announcing several schemes to help farmers, the State Government has implemented none.
There is also a fall in acreage under cultivation as this is turning out to be a risky affair. From around 1,000 acres under grape cultivation 10 years ago in Mathempatty, it is now a maximum 200 acres, Thangavelu told Covaipost.
As per unofficial reports, there are around 1,000 bore wells in the area, dug after taking loans, he says.
Beyond drought, climate change is also posing threats. Fungus infection has come to stay and diseases like downy mildew and powdery mildew are quite common.
Water problems coupled with climate change has brought down the number of boxes sold have dropped drastically, says farmer Sanjay Kumar.
The Government should step in and not only help in ensuring better farming conditions, but also help farmers set up factories to produce jams and juice and even allow brewing of wine, says Manickam.