A copious amount of rainfall has led to kuruvai cultivation being widely undertaken in the Cauvery delta this year. However, this has also triggered a phenomenon of cattle being left to starve, with some even being sold off for a meagre sum, due to a shortage in fodder, say farmers.
Although water availability and usage of borewells had led to widespread kuruvai cultivation across the delta districts this year, farmers in the region further said the cattle have been suffering without feed as the fodder is being exported to the other States like Kerala, Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh for a higher price.
Rengarajan, a long-time farmer from Pattukkottai in Thanjavur district, said that fodder could be extracted to a quantity of at least 30 bundles per acre and that it helped fetch an extra income of around Rs 1000 to Rs 1500 per acre, thereby resulting in yield loss being compensated in this manner. “As the income compensates the yield loss, the farmers prefer selling their fodder,” Rengarajan said.
Owing to a flourishing business this way, the farmers have even identified modern machinery that cuts fodder into proportional sizes and bundle them up in equal weight, Rengarajan said. “This makes the farmers to see an extra income,” he added.
With farmers claiming how trucks with fodder bundles is now a common sight on roads across the region, Rengarajan highlights how the local cattle are affected by the trade. Farmers, to not leave their cattle to starve, don’t ensure supply of fodder but go to the extent of selling their domestic animals instead, he said.
Meanwhile, Karthikeyan, a farmer from Tiruvarur said that the kuruvai cultivation was damaged due to the incessant downpour from the southwest monsoon, resulting in a loss in yield. This not only resulted in a loss of harvest but also led to fodder shortage in the delta region, he added.
“The cattle are used to consuming only dry fodder. But due to the monsoon, the entire landscape turned wet and the cattle had a hard time in getting their feed. Even though the animals consume fresh grass, it may sometimes cause digestion trouble in them and so, fodder is the apt feed for the domestic animals,” said Uzhavar Urimai Iyakkam coordinator S Thangaraj.
Due to various such reasons, the cattle are left to go starving and even a few die of starvation in the region, Thangaraj added.
Further, organic farmers said that fodder is the best manure for the fields and so, ryots scatter excess fodder on the lands. This was in practice during the earlier times, they claimed, adding that this would recharge the fertility of lands.
Taking into account the issue, a section of farmers, however, have demanded the establishment of fodder depots at the village level to ensure its availability to local farmers. They also appealed to the government to control the commercialisation of fodder.