Besides affecting Kerala’s agricultural sector, the devastating floods have dented the State’s animal husbandry and dairy sector, causing an estimated loss of around ₹800 crore.
The loss occurred at a time when the State is trying to maintain sustainability in the production of milk, livestock and poultry. Roughly around one lakh each of milch cattle, goats, pigs and more than four lakh of poultry were lost, said TP Sethumadhavan, former Director of Entprepreneurship, Kerala Veterinary and Animal Sciences University.
The university itself lost high-producing milch animals, cattle sheds and nuclear stock of Vechur cattle from its Thumburmuzhy Cattle Breeding Farm of Thrissur, he said.
Broiler, pineapple and banana production zones suffered a huge loss. More than 80 per cent of duck flocks in the Kuttanad area were lost.
Moreover, heavy losses also occurred in fisheries stocks, including ornamental, rearing and nuclear breeding stock of fishes and hatcheries, he said.
Raising concerns, Binny Immatty, President, Poultry Farmers and Traders Samithy, Kerala, said the State is likely to face a broiler chicken shortage in the coming months as around 25 lakh live birds were washed away in the flood along with feed and sheds. It will take nearly 45 days to get the broiler chicken from hatcheries in Tamil Nadu and neighbouring States, he said, adding that the wholesale and retail prices of broiler chickens are also moving up, registering a ₹10/kg increase this week.
Apart from affecting cash crops such as pepper, rubber, coffee, etc, the devastating floods washed off vegetables, medicinal plants and horticulture crops and acres of paddy cultivation in the Palakkad and Kuttanad regions.
There has been a loss of rich genetic resources of crop varieties and breeds and the flood-hit districts are some of the best agri production and promotion zones.
Sethumadhavan, who is also a Consultant to the World Bank on Sustainable Agriculture, stressed upon the need to analyse the existing soil structure before planning for future farming activities. He emphasised on the need to consider precision farming methods and look at the opportunities for prefab construction for animal and poultry houses.
Farmers and entrepreneurs can think of high-precision intensive farming with a group farming approach for production, value-addition and marketing, he said.