The rains in Kerala over the second half of August wreaked havoc, causing mass-scale destruction. While the damage to life and property are the immediate consequences, we must also take stock of the damage that the floods have done to agricultural soil.
Kerala is known to produce large quantities of coconut, banana, cashew nut and paddy, along with spices like pepper, turmeric and cardamom and areca nut, among other things.
Besides affecting cash crops such as pepper, rubber, coffee, etc., the devastating floods washed away vegetables, medicinal plants and horticulture crops and hundreds of acres of paddy in the Palakkad and Kuttanad regions.
While reports are still trickling in of the loss that the State has suffered, there seems to be a sliver of hope for the farmers of the region, who are hopeful that the mud deposits that have been brought in by the floods will ensure that their farmland turns fertile and is ready for the sowing season.
The agricultural department is now spreading awareness among the farming community to ensure that they make use of the soil for irrigation. It is also a great time to start organic farming.
According to a report published in Onmanorama, the agriculture department has said, “Farmers should take steps to preserve this soil and make use of it. This mud increases the biotic components of the soil as well as retains the moisture content. Moreover, the presence of organic component ensures that the elements required for the healthy growth of plants are readily available.”
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While reports suggest that the floods have resulted in losses of over Rs 1,000 crore, some regions may just have benefitted from it.
According to a report in The New Indian Express, Justin Mohan, Director, State Soil Survey and Soil Conservation, says, “Kuttanad – the agrarian region in Alappuzha and Kottayam districts that have taken a severe beating in the floods – may have benefited soil-wise. Since it is a low-lying region, the topsoil from the high ranges is likely to have settled here which could benefit crop productivity.”
While these are all speculations, for now, one can say with certainty that the impact of the floods on the soil is complete. With sowing set to begin in September, the farmers in the state will be praying for some respite and good news.
(Edited by Shruti Singhal)