Homestead farms bore the brunt during floods: study

The torrential rain and floods that devastated the State in August caused widespread damage not only to field crops but also to homestead farms and agricultural assets such as machinery and irrigation equipment. Farmers also incurred heavy loss due to the destruction of honeybee colonies, a study conducted by Kerala Agricultural University reveals.

The report submitted to the Indian Council for Agricultural Research puts the total loss suffered by the State’s farming sector due to the floods at Rs. 3,646.40 crore. While the loss of field crops is pegged at Rs. 894.98 crore, the damage to perennial and fruit and timber trees in homestead farms is estimated to be Rs. 1,495 crore. Farm assets worth Rs. 1,834.50 crore were lost to floodwaters while the economic impact on honeybee rearing is put at Rs. 12.50 crore.

As many as six multidisciplinary teams from the university headed by senior scientists visited the flood-hit areas and worked along with representatives of local bodies and the Department of Agriculture to collect the data. “The study shows that the floods have not only affected standing crops but also left a long-lasting impact on soil fertility, capital investment and infrastructure in agriculture,” says KAU Vice Chancellor R. Chandra Babu.

The damage

The loss in paddy production is estimated at 84,152 tonnes. The floods damaged 58,412 tonnes of vegetable crops, 84,950 tonnes of banana and 1,126 tonnes of sugar cane. Trees such as jackfruit, mango, teak and tamarind, abundantly grown in home gardens, were adversely affected by the rain and floods.

The survey found that the floods had dealt a heavy blow to the thriving honeybee industry in the State. While adult foraging bees perished in the heavy rain, the dearth of pollen weakened the young ones. In many areas, honeybee colonies were totally washed off, leaving only fragments of beehives. The study estimates that 60% to 65% of colonies in Thrissur, Palakkad, Alappuzha and Pathanamthitta districts were destroyed.

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