Floods in Kerala, dubbed the worst in the past 100 years, has left the state’s grocery basket, bare by at least one third. Day-to-day food needs of 4.5-crore people are in jeopardy, as the policymakers grapple with the gargantuan devastation of milch cows, chicken, ducks, and food grains.
Union agriculture secretary Shobhana K Pattanayak has officially confirmed the report that damages in paddy, banana, spices and other crops in Kerala extent to 45,000 hectares. The state had sown paddy in 57,000 hectares, in the current season.
Pineapple farmers in Thodupuzha have faced Rs 300-crore damage. Banana bunches, ready for the Onam market, never made it, after the Periyar river swelled over its banks on August 15.
A rough estimate is that 3.14 lakh farmers have suffered crop losses of about Rs 1,355.6 crore, Justin Mohan, director, state agriculture department, told FE.
Amidst the exigencies of flood that killed 483 people and threw the lives of 52 lakh people haywire, several families forgot to unleash their cows when they fled for lives. Initial assessment is that livestock worth about `800 crore has been destroyed. Going by the early estimates, milk production in the state will be reduced by 30%, says NN Sasi, director, state animal husbandry department.
Per day, Kerala needs 87 lakh litres of milk. Due to recent efforts in improving milk production, the local cattle had been meeting about 80% of the daily milk needs, when the monsoon ravaged and the river floods struck. Three districts, Wayanad, Idukky and Alappuzha, which were vital to the state’s milk plan, were devastated.
Approximately 100,000 each of milch cattle, goats, pigs and more than 400,000 of poultry were lost, says TP Sethumadhavan, former director of entrepreneurship, Kerala Veterinary and Animal Sciences University.
Telengana, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu had stepped in with `3-crore worth fodder and medicines, since large swathes of green fodder in the low-lands have gone. This, however, would not be enough. Besides the loss of cattle, large swathes of green fodder in the low-lands have also disappeared. Replenishment of green fodder will take at least four months. “The pressing priority is to keep the surviving animals in good health, ensuring fodder and insurance money to the farmers. Milma (apex body of milk marketing societies) has offered `6.8-crore relief,” said KG Satheesh, GM, Milma.
Broiler chicken price has shot up by Rs 10 per kg this week, as about 25 lakh live chicken were washed away in floods. “It would take over 45 days to get broiler chicken from hatcheries in Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh to feed the demand,” says Binny Immatty, president, Poultry Farmers and Traders Samithy, Kerala. More than 80% of duck flocks in the Kuttanad area were lost. Fisheries stocks, including that of ornamental fishes, of hatcheries are diminished, after the fury of flood waters.