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Tamil Nadu Paddy Farmers Hit by Unexpected Rains, Poor Procurement 

The cap on the moisture content at paddy procurement centres has forced farmers to sell their yield to private traders at low prices.
Tamil Nadu Vivasayigal Sangam (AIKS) members protest in Alakudi, Tanjore. Image courtesy: Samy Natarajan.

Tamil Nadu Vivasayigal Sangam (AIKS) members protest in Alakudi, Tanjore. Image courtesy: Samy Natarajan.

Farmers of the Cauvery Delta and western districts of Tamil Nadu expecting a good Kuruvai (Kharif) harvest are in for a shock with the sudden downpour since the last week of September. They are unable to sell the yield due to the increased moisture level in the paddy.

The lack of state government planning in procuring the yield and shifting them to godowns of the Tamil Nadu Civil Supplies Corporation (TNCSC) has dealt a severe blow to farmers. Subsequently, the DMK government urged the Centre to increase the cap on moisture content in procured paddy by 5% but hasn’t received any response.


The Meteorological Department predicted the arrival of the northeast monsoon in Tamil Nadu by the last week of October, and farmers were hoping to harvest paddy by then. But cyclonic depressions triggered heavy rains in many parts of the state.

Erode, Namakkal and Salem districts have been lashed by heavy rains since October 8 badly impacting the harvesting of paddy and storage. With several paddy fields inundated, harvesting machines have become inoperable.

The budding samba paddy crops in certain parts of the Delta region have also been affected. Nagapattinam farmers, who have no option but to restart cultivation due to waterlogged fields and rotting crops, have requested the state government to review the damage and provide new seeds at subsidised rates.


Though farmers appreciated the Tamil Nadu government for being sensitive towards their demand and opening the Mettur Dam ahead of the usual time this year on June 12, they criticised the failure to provide basic infrastructure to procure their produce.

Tamil Nadu Vivasayigal Sangam (AIKS) and Tamizhaga Cauvery Vivasayigal Sangam, along with other organisations, held protests last week demanding the procurement of paddy with more than 17% moisture content.

PR Pandian, president, TN All Farmers Associations’ Coordination Committee, told reporters that “even a single spell of rain will increase the moisture in paddy from 14% to 18-19%. Considering this, the government should procure paddy with moisture content up to 22%”.

Hulling paddy with such moisture content immediately and distributing it through the public distribution system would prevent deterioration in quality,” Pandian added.

However, Tamil Nadu AIKS general secretary Samy Natarajan told Newsclick that when “farmers approached J Radhakrishnan, principal secretary of cooperation, he said the state government had written to the Centre 10 days ago asking to increase the cap on moisture content for procurement of paddy up to 21% but there has been no response”.

They have to increase the cap to, at least, 20%. Otherwise, it would become a huge issue. They did increase it last year,” Natarajan added.

DPCs have asked farmers to dry their yield and then sell it. However, it is not possible with incessant rains and large volumes of paddy are bound to get damaged. Consequently, farmers have been forced to sell their yield to private traders at low prices.


AIKS also complained that the payment for the purchased paddy has not been disbursed since September 27 and has demanded immediate payment. It has also demanded that the purchased paddy should be taken to godowns to prevent deterioration of quality.

Notably, Union secretary of the department of food and public distribution Sudhanshu Pandey visited certain districts in central Tamil Nadu last week and inspected the functioning of fair price shops and the Civil Supplies Corporation godown.

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