Despite weak rain, a total of 1, 285 hectares have come under paddy sowing so far this season, including 485 hectares under pokkali paddy in Ernakulam district.

According to figures from the Department of Agriculture, pokkali farming has picked up some momentum in the Njarakkal, Paravoor, Kalamassery and Varappuzha areas. However, a shortage of seeds has hit pokkali operations. Department sources also said about 800 hectares had come under the ‘Virippu’ paddy, mostly in the eastern and northern parts of the district such as Nedumbassery, Mulamthuruthy and Perumbavoor. The acreage under ‘Virippu’ is comparably more than last year when heavy rain prevented sowing in large swathes of paddy fields.

Meanwhile, farmers in the Chellanam panchayat took out a march to the agriculture office on Monday demanding action against officials who were not implementing the declared government policy of cyclical cultivation of rice and shrimp in the pokkali fields.The farmers and activists supporting reclamation of fields for rice cultivation during the monsoon also have demanded that all shrimp farms in operation against the government policy should be closed down immediately and the fields prepared for rice cultivation.

Francis Kulathungal, convener of the Pokkali Samrakshana Samithi, said most of the pokkali fields in Chellanam panchayat had not yet been drained for rice cultivation. He alleged that the shrimp lobby was strongly behind flouting of the government rule on cyclical farming in the pokkali fields.

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