Tales From The Coast Part 3 - Post Thane Cyclone, Cuddalore farmers shift to climate-friendly Vettiver plants

Apr 30, 01:12 PM
In 2011, Cyclone Thane had a serious impact on the livelihood of farmers in Cuddalore, the eastern coast of Tamilnadu. The farmers in this region could only grow casuarina, cashew, due to the soil conditions here. After the cyclone, many farmers looked for an alternative crop. Vettiver, a perennial grass variety, turned out to be the only feasible alternative. This hard grass could survive drought, rain and tolerate salinity. Many farmers shifted to vettiver cultivation hereafter 2011.

Though the state was traditionally growing this crop for bund strengthening, the practice reduced over time. A few traditional farmers still practised it. What further gave an impetus to vettiver farming in Tamilnadu was the announcement of Aroma Mission in 2016 by the Indian government. Cuddalore was declared as the hub for vettiver cultivation by the Prime Minister. Over the last five years, the acreage of vettiver plants increased in Cuddalore due to climate change, and the announcement of aroma mission.

The crop made environmental and business sense, as the profits seemed good. However, the graph changed this year, with fluctuating prices. The plant is climate-resilient, good for the environment, and makes good business sense. To make vettiver a robust climate-resilient crop that also gives sustainable income to farmers, government support is needed. Farmers believe that if the government supports in marketing, setting a minimum price, gives concessions on solar pumps, and encourage exports, it would be greatly beneficial for them to sustain.