Droughts and a cyclone: Tamil Nadu farmers struck twice

The Indian region of south Tamil Nadu has recently been hit by droughts and a horrible cyclone.

Crop farmers in the Kanyakumari district were just recovering from the worst drought last year. But then came cyclone Ockhi. It caused the worst damage the district has witnessed in a long time. The cyclone has laid waste to acres of banana farms. Cash and plantation crops like coconut, rubber and banana are prevalent in this part of the State. Rubber and coconut are grown on close to 25,000 hectares and banana on 6,400 hectares. The district which usually has an average rainfall of 1,44 mm, only received 922 mm in 2016. This led to banana plantations withering away.

A banana farmer in Valliyoor told thehindubusinessline he was growing export varieties that are being shipped to Gulf countries. “Bananas are high-yielding crops with an input cost of 80,000 rupees. But last year most banana farmers lost 50,000 rupees an acre. Rain was a major factor, but heavy winds have also uprooted many trees. The market price of bananas is at 40 rupees/kg. But farmers barely get 10 rupees. And since bananas are perishable, they cannot be stored in order to wait for the price to go up.

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