“Of a total of 3,000 hectares available for paddy cultivation in the district, 1,200 hectares have already been sown.”

The prospects of paddy cultivation in Ernakulam are looking up this Virippu season (first crop) with the earlier than expected onset of the monsoon. If everything goes right, area under paddy in Ernakulam during the season is expected to easily exceed last year’s spread of 1,873 hectares, say figures from the department of agriculture.

“Of a total of 3,000 hectares available for paddy cultivation in the district, 1,200 hectares have already been sown,” said a senior department official here on Tuesday. The official said the recent peak recorded in the district was during the 2011 summer when a total of 2,600 hectares came under paddy.

In areas like Kunnukara, Edakkattuvayal, Amballoor and Koovappady sowing operations are complete or are in advanced stage. But it has been held up in places like Rayamangalam, Mulamthuruthy and Piravom mostly because of water logging.

In Kunnukara, around 78 hectares have come under the summer paddy crop. The farmers have been traditionally using the Uma variety of red rice and the yields have been good around 5.5 tonnes a hectare. However, the intensity of the rains this season has raised some fears that rising water levels in the fields may affect productivity.

The Indian Meteorological Department predicted on Tuesday that the district would get between 64 mm and 35 mm of rain over the next five days. Figures from the IMD also show that the district has received copious rains, in excess of the normal rainfall. The actual rainfall between June 1 and 12 has been 401.6 mm against the normal 270.3 mm in the district.

A department official said the expanded dry weather during April-May held up dry sowing but picked up momentum in the first week of June itself.

Unlike in Pokkali, the Virippu season has not been hit by any shortage of seeds. Uma and Jyoti varieties are the favourites during the first crop and the seeds have been sourced from Kerala State Seed Development Authority.

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