One of the main rivers passing through the state of Tamil Nadu is the River Palar. Although no water flows along the surface for most of the year there is ground water several metres under the river bed. Around the river channel very shallow wells are used to irrigate crops. The area is very lush and there are coconut groves, banana and sugar cane plantations and paddy rice fields. As you move north of the river towards KV Kuppam the water table drops and the ground rises. Wells have to be deeper and this is expensive. Less ground can be irrigated and many fields are left dry and barren.
Over the last few years farmers have had to cope with less and less water, due to the failure of the monsoon and many small farmers have been unable to make a living. As there is very little rainfall they can only grow crops when they have enough water to irrigate their fields. If they didn’t have access to a well with a pump they would find it impossible to grow anything other than one crop of peanuts or lentils during the short monsoon season. Even when water is available some farmers nearer the town of Vellore have problems with pollution from the local leather tanneries.
South Indian crops include
- Paddy rice
- Sugar cane
- Ground nuts (peanuts)
- Ragi-a type of millet
- Lentils such as red gram
Industry and Trade
Other than agriculture K.V.Kuppam has traditionally depended on three basic industries: handloom weaving, matchmaking and beedi rolling (a beedi is a simple cheap cigarette).
Handloom weaving provided the cloth for the tailors in the village. The development of machine weaving obviously affected the livelihood of local weavers and tailors and had an impact on the local economy. In 1984 a new industry, based on the weaving and tailoring skills in the area, was set up as a result of the Bishopston-Kuppam friendship link and a worker’s co-operative was established in 1985. This Fair Trade partnership grew to provide good working conditions and fair wages for nearly 300 tailors, cutters, embroiderers, appliqué workers and support staff working full time on the orders placed by Bishopston Trading Company. In addition, after the rise of Self Help Groups in 2006, the company was able to source some handloom cotton directly from 98 weavers in 6 Self Help Groups. This partnership lasted over 28 years until The Bishopston Trading Company closed in 2013. You can read more about BTC in ‘A special Friendship’.
Since it started in 1977, the Rural Unit for Health and Social Affairs (RUHSA) has also played its part in developing the local economy. In recent years they have been supporting Women’s Self Help Groups as a way of empowering women in the local community. Some groups have failed but many have been successful and the women involved have gained many new skills and increased standing in their villages.
K.V.Kuppam is a bustling rural community and many small industries and trades are also to be found along the main road and surrounding areas.
Use the links below to find out more about different industry and trade areas:
- Local Industry
- Home Industry
- Making Traditional Hand Woven Cloth
- Local Trade
- Women’s self-help groups