Thoothukudi farmers at wits’ end as pigs, deer damage crops- The New Indian Express

Express News Service

THOOTHUKUDI: Several groundnut and maize farmers at Kurumalai foothills near Kayathar and the Vaippar river bed in the district have raised complaints that pigs and deers are causing misery to them by damaging the crops, urging the district administration to cull the animals so as to increase the harvest, consisting of maize, cotton, and black gram. More than deer, pigs damage crops. At least 10 villages, including L Venkateswarapuram, Kurumalai and Sundareswarapuram, have been affected by this menace. Kurumalai farmers said they suffered a huge financial loss due to drought, heavy rains and attack by fall armyworms in the past years, and it is a wild animal menace this year.

“The pigs cross over 3 km from the Kurumalai reserve forest, enter the fields after 8 pm, and graze on the crops until dawn. We are staying in the fields risking our lives as snakes and scorpions are largely out in the fields after dusk. Forest authorities should erect a fence around the hills,” said Karupasamy, who cultivates crops on six acres of land in Kurumalai.

Stating that only two or three pigs were seen in recent years, another farmer said they can now be seen in hundreds. A drove of 40-50 pigs enter the fields and damage crops. The government should provide subsidized loans to avail electric fences as it is a recurring incident,” he added. A farmer, Vijayakumar, said they would firecracker around the field every hour to chase away the animals.

Farmers from Muthalapuram village along the Vaippar river said the pigs feed on the groundnuts, causing crop damage. “The deer mainly feed on maize which is in the fruit-bearing stage. The damages are high in Ayanrasapatti, Kailasapuram, Masarpatti, Ayanvadamalapuram and Ayankarisalkulam,” said Varadharajan, president of Karisal Boomi Vivasayigal Sangam. They suspect the increase in deers and menace was due to the mass removal of invasive Seemai Karuvelam trees (Prosopis juliflora), initiated by Vilathikulam DMK MLA GV Markandeyan.

The Karuvelam trees from the Vaippar river bed stretching from Ayanarasapatti village till Vaippar village were removed. However, the farmers said uprooting trees would only lead to more reptiles and wild animals flocking to nearby farms. “As cumbu and cholam crops are nearing the fruit-bearing stage, menace by birds may cause crop damage,” added Varadharajan.

The farmers also demanded the state government to compensate them for the crop damages caused by the animals, apart from effective controlling measures. Forest officials said farmers are compensated when the crops are damaged by deer, but there is no provision for damages caused by pigs, he said. Agriculture officials said they don’t deal with the animal menace and the only respite should be the forest department.