There is a serious shortage of pokkali seeds this season with only about 4,000 kg of the Vyttila-6 variety available.
A shortage of seeds and exclusion of normal agricultural activities such as land preparation and sowing from the purview of the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act is likely to shrink pokkali cultivation during this season by nearly 50 per cent against last year’s levels.
A total of 770 hectares came under pokkali cultivation in Ernakulam district during the last season despite adverse weather conditions. More than 40 per cent of the sown area did not yield at the normal levels.
However, the ensuing season holds great promise because of the early onset of monsoon. Farmers have shown enthusiasm in sowing their fields in places such as Kumbalangi, Chellanam, Kuzhuppilly, Kumbalam, Edavanakakkad, Pallippuram.
Most of the fields are being drained after the first spell of rain, which brings down salinity levels to the desired levels. In some of the areas land preparations are yet to begin and a possible shortage of labour is likely to hit farming operations during the new season.
Exclusion of agricultural activities like sowing and harvesting from the purview of MGNREGA under the guidelines for 2013 has made pokkali farmers reluctant to hire labourers at the normal market rate of Rs.400 a day.
Officials from the agriculture department have held three rounds of talks with farmers in different panchayats to persuade them to take up sowing during the new season. The talks have not met with much success.
Meanwhile, officials in the department of agriculture have said there was a serious shortage of pokkali seeds this season with only about 4,000 kg of the Vyttila-6 variety available.
The Kerala State Seed Development Authority has not produced any seed for the new pokkali season apparently because it had no intimation from the agricultural department.