July 30, 2019
Since rains have been less than expected this year in Gudalur, farmers have shelved planting of cereal crops. Usually the south west and north east monsoons would ensure continuous rains for six months every year in Gudalur area.
For the past 40 years, Gudalur alone had been receiving, on an average, 6000 mm of rains per annum. However that has changed now: in 2018 Gudalur got only 2,607 mm and Devala got 3,623 mm rains.
This area’s good rains had earlier ensured good harvest of cash crops like ginger, cardamom, cloves, pepper and coffee. During May after harvest, the farmers would prepare and plough the lands ready to plant the winter crops. Then when rains came, hundreds of acress in Gudalur’s towns like Putthurvayal, Padanthorai, Sri Madurai, Mudumalai, Puliampara and Thorapalli would be sown with rice saplings.
Rice varieties like Adakan, Kandasaal, Bharathi, Selnel, Velumpi, Kadakannan were planted here. Last July there were heavy rains with floods, but the north-east monsoons failed. Farmers in Gudalur had expected good rains this June but their hopes were belied, forcing them to give up planting rice this year. Some farmers are preparing to plant rice a little later.
Gudalur has recorded only 683mm of rain while Devala had 425 mm of rain so far. Many streams have dried up due to scanty rains.
“We used to plant our crops expecting June rains. With insufficient rains we cannot start cereal planting now. This will affect the fodder output for domestic animals, reduce milk production and affect the general economy.
“Only if seasonal rains are heavy can we think of raising crops. This economic downturn can also affect our celebration of the harvest festival of Puttheri,” say the local farmers.