Rains play havoc with crops in Kerala

Kochi: The heavy rain that swept the Kerala last week caused an estimated loss of Rs3.50 crores in the agriculture sector in Ernakulam district alone. Major food and cash crops, including banana, coconut, pepper, rubber, areca, coffee, cashew, cocoa, betel, nutmeg and vegetables, suffered heavy losses in the rain.

The final figures are still being evaluated, as inputs from only 15 of the 90 Krishi Bhavans in the district have arrived so far, according to the principal agriculture officer, Kakkanad.

As many as 2 lakh banana trees and 50,000 rubber trees are estimated to have been damaged by the rain. More than 6,000 areca nut trees and over 1,000 coconut trees, both yielding and non-yielding, were also damaged. About 6,600 standards (a unit of measure) of pepper were destroyed, according to preliminary reports, amounting to an estimated loss of around Rs9.99 lakhs.

Further, about 39,000 hectares of tapioca cultivation, worth Rs1.95 lakhs, and 5.5 hectares of vegetable cultivation were destroyed. Five hundred coffee plants, 40 cashewnut trees and 120 cents of betel vine cultivation also suffered losses.

Nutmeg cultivation, which enjoys a prime position in the district, was hit with the destruction of about 3,200 trees, causing a loss of over Rs1.80 lakhs.

Though no official reports have arrived from the paddy sector, paddy crops, especially in the low-lying areas of the district, suffered extensive damage. So far Rs90.3 lakhs of drought- relief funds have been distributed and more funds are awaited, according to the agriculture department.