Teen farmer, whose 13 cows died of food poisoning, gets financial help from government, actor Jayaram, Lulu Group

Animal Husbandry Minister Chinchu Rani said that steps would be taken to hand over five insured cows to the young farmer soon.


Published Jan 03, 2024 | 11:50 AMUpdatedJan 03, 2024 | 11:50 AM

Idukki cattle death: Mathew, the teen farmer, was visited by government officials and actor Jayaram. (Sourced)

Two days after a young dairy farmer suffered a devastating loss, with as many as 13 of his 20 cows dying from suspected food poisoning, offers of new cows and financial assistance poured in from various quarters at his farm in the mountainous district of Idukki, Kerala, on Tuesday, 2 January.

State ministers J Chinchu Rani and Roshy Augustine visited 15-year-old Mathew, the distressed young farmer, at his house in Velliyamattom village this morning and offered support and assistance from the state government.

Besides Kerala ministers, actor Jayaram also lent a helping hand to the teenaged Kerala farmer.

While the ruling CPI(M) offered to give two cows, Lulu Group Chairman MA Yusuff Ali directed his company officials to visit their home and provide immediate assistance of ₹5 lakh to the family to buy 10 cows.

Actor Jayaram pitches in

Actor Jayaram, known for his love of animals, also visited the boy’s house and handed over a cheque for ₹5 lakh to buy new cows and rebuild his farm.

Jayaram said that the film crew of the Malayalam movie Abraham Ozler, in which he stars, has opted to cancel the scheduled trailer launch event on 4 January, and has instead decided to donate the ₹5 lakh allocated for it to Mathew’s family.

Additionally, Jayaram conveyed to Mathew that actors Mammootty and Prithviraj will also be contributing financial aid of ₹1 lakh and ₹2 lakh, respectively.

Jayaram, after handing over the cheque, said that he could understand the sorrow of the young farmer and his family over the deaths of their dear cows. “Everything will be alright soon,” the actor said, consoling them.

He also told the farmer that he would help him buy high-bred cows from Krishnagiri in Tamil Nadu at a good price.

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Govt assures financial assistance, cows

Earlier, Animal Husbandry Minister Chinchu Rani said that steps would be taken to hand over five insured cows to the young farmer soon. Cattle feed for one month would also be made available to him free of cost at the earliest, she said, after visiting the young farmer and his family.

Furthermore, a financial assistance of ₹45,000 from the Kerala Co-operative Milk Marketing Federation (Milma) would also be ensured for the distressed farmer, she added.

“All five cows will be of good breed. They will be given after they are insured. If any casualty happens to the cattle, he would get back the entire amount,” she told reporters.

The minister, accompanied by Water Resources Minister Augustine, also advised Mathew to grow grass on unused properties in the area to ensure good-quality feed for the cattle.

Additionally, CPI(M) sources revealed that the party’s state secretary, MV Govindan, contacted Mathew and his family over the phone to offer consolation. He also extended the offer of providing them with two cows.

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The story of Mathew’s cows

Thirteen of Mathew’s 20 cows died on Sunday, following which he became distressed and was hospitalised.

Preliminary reports suggest that the cattle might have been affected by a poisonous substance called hydrocyanic acid (HCN) present in the tapioca skin used as feed, a non-conventional but cost-effective food for cattle, a government official said.

Three of the cows that survived are under treatment, while another cow with four calves has survived.

The losses incurred by Mathew is estimated to be around ₹6 lakh, officials said, adding that unfortunately, the family had not insured the cows.

The boy, who took over the farm two years ago at the age of 13 after his father’s untimely demise, relied on tapioca leaves as an economical alternative to conventional cattle feed.

Mathew’s brother George and younger sister assist him with managing the farm.

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(Disclaimer: The headline, subheads, and intro of this report along with the photos may have been reworked by South First. The rest of the content is from a syndicated feed, and has been edited for style.)