The Agriculture Department has extended the date for grant for upland paddy cultivation to farmers in the district till the end of this month.

Principal Agriculture officer B. M. Sasikumar told The Hindu on Thursday that the climatic conditions have been found to be favourable to start cultivation this month also.

He said that farmers in the district were reluctant to start upland paddy cultivation and of the targeted 1,250 hectares of fallow land to be brought under upland paddy cultivation this season, only 450 hectares was cultivated till August end. He said that the State government provides a subsidy of Rs. 5,000 per hectare of land with a ceiling of 50 hectares under `Susthira Krishi' scheme and Centre gives Rs. 10,000 per hectare to 1,200 hectares under the food security scheme. This scheme will be extended this month also and the seeds are being supplied to the farmers through the Krishi Bhavans, he said.

Mr. Sasi Kumar said that each year, more land in the district is being brought under paddy cultivation, though it is yet to reach the targeted level.

One reason for slow land conversion to upland paddy cultivation is the large canopy provided by trees in the High Ranges especially in the Cardamom Hill Reserve tracts. This hinders direct sunlight essential for paddy cultivation, he said.

In the low range areas, the main crop is rubber and when the land is being prepared for replanting, the farmers prefer pineapple cultivation than paddy due to the higher margin of profit they get.

He said that a farmers meeting will be held through the Krishi Bhavans to spread upland paddy cultivation.

Keywords: paddy farming