A success story, one that has chapters in abundance on tales of grit and determination, is slowly being scripted in the paddy fields of Kuttanad.
A success story, one that has chapters in abundance on tales of grit and determination, is slowly being scripted in the paddy fields of Kuttanad here.
The Kuttanad farmer, who was once the proud proprietor of the Rice Bowl of Kerala, is proving that wave after wave of calamities, both natural and man-made, have failed to stop him from regaining his past glory.
The monsoon, unexpected summer rains and the worst flood in 16 years coupled with bureaucratic glitches made serious dents into the profits of farmers in the last two years. But the region is on a comeback trail, with a steady increase in the acreage of paddy cultivation and consequent output.
The district had a total paddy acreage of 34,430 hectares in 2007-08, putting together the extent on which paddy was sown for the ‘puncha’ and ‘virippu’ seasons and the other smaller rounds of cultivation sandwiched between these two seasons. In 2008-09, the area climbed to 37,050 hectares. In the current year, it is poised to touch 40,000 hectares, with over 2,000 hectares that had been lying fallow being brought under the cultivation cycles in May-June and October-November.
The production graphs too have been heartening. In 2007-08, the total yield was 1.56 lakh tonnes. The following year, it rose to 1.72 lakh tonnes, and this year, agriculture authorities are expecting the figure to cross two lakh tonnes.
Procurement by the Civil Supplies Department’s Supplyco, in 2007 was 98,846 tonnes and 1,29,926 tonnes in 2008. The target for 2009-10 is two lakh tonnes.
The steady improvement could be attributed to some programmes initiated by the government.
For instance, a Micronutrient Scheme to assist farmers in low productivity areas, which is being implemented in 7,400 hectares, has spurred an increase in productivity by at least one tonne per hectare. Other schemes like the ‘Sustainable Development of Rice-based Farming Systems’, the Centrally-sponsored ‘MOU Rice Development Scheme’, the State government’s Food Security Programme and other on-field initiatives like an Integrated Pest Management programme too have been beneficial, according to Principal Agriculture Officer (Alappuzha & Pathanamthitta) Jose Joseph.