Tamil Nadu’s grape growers face crisis: Heat spells 80% drop in yield

Farmers cultivate 10-12 tonnes of grapes from an acre of the farm, but yield is impacted due to heatwaves

   
Tamil Nadu grape farmers in crisis due to heatwaves

Tamil Nadu is home to two main varieties of grapes: panneer thiratchai (Muscat Hamburg) and Odaipatti seedless grapes. Grape farmers in the region are dejected as high temperatures in the last few weeks will lead to a huge fall in the yield of grapes.

K. Muniayndi, a farmer in Theni who has cultivated panneer thiratchai on around 10 acres of land, told IANS that due to high temperatures, there would be a drastic fall in the crop’s yield.

He said: “Generally, we get 10-12 tonnes of grapes from an acre of the farm, but due to temperatures touching more than 39 degrees Celsius, the yield will be less than three tonnes per acre.”

The grape farmer also said that for one acre of grape cultivation, a farmer has to spend around Rs 1.25 lakh, and if the yield falls to three tonnes per acre, then the situation of the farmers would be pathetic.

Panneer Thiratchai Farmers Association leader Karuppanan Raju, while speaking to IANS, said: “Almost 90 per cent of our farmers are cultivating the fruit in the Cumbum area. The heatwaves have destroyed our lives. Around 300 farmers are cultivating on 5,000 acres of land, and we are looking forward to huge losses.”

He also said that the yield would be less than 80 per cent of what they usually get, and called upon the Tamil Nadu Agricultural Department to provide compensation for their losses.

The Odaipatti seedless grape farmers have a similar story to narrate. Odaipatti is a region in Theni district which cultivates seedless grapes on around 1,000 acres of land, involving 200 farmers.

Krishnan Thevar, a grape farmer, while speaking to IANS, said: “We are facing a bleak future. We will only get two to three tonnes of grapes from an acre, which is very low. Generally, we harvest around 12 tonnes from an acre of land.”

He demanded that the state government fix a Minimum Support Price (MSP) for Odaipatti grapes at Rs 50 per kg, just like the state government sanctioned for sugarcane and paddy when there was crop loss.

It is worth noting that the Tamil Nadu government has already proposed a GI tag for Odaipatti seedless grapes, which would help felicitate the export of these grapes. However, presently, the farmers said that they are concerned about how to overcome the huge losses.

K. M. Murugesan, an Odaipatti seedless grape farmer, told IANS that the farmers want the state government’s intervention in the matter to provide them with an MSP as they were expecting losses of 80 per cent of the yield in September, when they will harvest the crop.

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