Political parties, especially in Tamil Nadu, have been generous in their promises to provide freebies of various types. These have engendered a desire to look for doles for every type and occasion. Three weeks ago when the monsoon had not set yet, a section of farmers looked for relief from the government of Tamil Nadu. Now with the bountiful rains, there is demand for flood relief. Of course, a large acreage of cultivated land has been affected and some sections do deserve assistance. But we will have to move towards insurance that would be more rational and will have better norms for assessing and providing assistance. As the government had done for major surgeries that cover around 60 per cent of the population, the government can devise schemes to help farmers insure crops against natural calamities.
Agriculture is a short-term operation. Bountiful rains do cause suffering in the short run but are a boon to ensure needed water for a quick next crop. Only we need to ensure harvesting and storing the rainwater to last long. The Agriculture Department, in association with the Tamil Nadu Agricultural University, should also come out with schemes for raising a short-term crops, fully utilising the bonanza of copious rains. In the context of the shortage of pulses and oilseeds, an ingenious plan to raise these as irrigated crops would also benefit farmers.