Pokkali farmers at Kadamakudy could not hide their joy on Tuesday when they received support for the unique farming practice from a celebrated actor and director in Mollywood.
Popular artiste Sreenivasan, who inaugurated the harvest fest of the cage fish farming in pokkali fields, termed pokkali farming system “a matter of pride to the entire Keralites”.
An active practitioner of organic and eco-friendly farming, Mr. Sreenivasan pointed out that society should support pokkali farmers as they produce pure organic rice and fish. He said that such efforts need encouragement from all quarters at a time when toxic chemicals are widely used to augment production and profit.
Demonstrated by Krishi Vigyan Kendra, Ernakulam of the Central Marine Fisheries Research Institute, cage fish farming is being implemented in Kadamakudy, Ezhikkara, Nedungad, Kumbalangi and Pizhala.
Vacant channels and sluice pits in pokkali fields are used for fish farming as part of this process. The programme aims at attracting more farmers to pokkali farming which can bring in additional profit.
Experts at the Krishi Vigyan Kendra of CMFRI estimate that farmers engaged in cage fish farming would get an additional earning of about Rs. 80,000 per hectare. The kendra has plans to introduce suitable machinery for pokkali field preparation and paddy harvesting in the second phase of the project to revive pokkali farming.
Pokkali rice, which received the Geographical Indication registration and Plant Genome Saviour Community Award from the Ministry of Agriculture in 2011, is facing extinction.
Some of the factors adversely affecting the unique farming practice include white spot disease, high labour cost, lack of suitable machinery, climate change, low productivity of traditional varieties and environmental pollution.