Unprecedented increase in the transportation cost of the paddy harvested at the fields of Uppper Kuttanad has been reportedly plaguing the farmers of Upper Kuttanad.
Many small and medium farmers say that paddy cultivation has become a costly affair due to the ever escalating wages and shooting fertilizer price.
Transportation of paddy has literally become a burden as far as the hapless farmers are concerned, says Mr Sam Eapen, Upper Kuttanad Nelkarshaka Samiti resident.
The headload workers in many parts of the region charge Rs 100 to Rs 150 for transporting a quintal (100 kg) of paddy from the field to the boat or from the boat to the vehicle parked nearby in Upper Kuttanad.
This is in sharp contrast to the prevailing rate of Rs 5 to Rs 8 for loading a 50 kg bag of cement elsewhere in the State, he alleged.
Mr Eapen alleged that the farmers in the Upper Kuttanad villages spread across the districts of Pathanamthitta, Alappuzha and Kottayam were left to bear the brunt of this grossly unjust wage structure. Mr Eapen said the wage structure in Kuttanad has been closely monitored and reviewed by the Kuttanad Industrial Regulatory Committee. But, any such mechanism is absent in the Upper Kuttanad region, leading to exhorbitant claims of wages by the headload workers as well as farm workers in the region, he added.
Steep increase in the fertilizer price is another major problem facing the Upper Kuttanad farmers.
Mr Eapen said the price of Factomphos (20X20) which was only Rs 369 a 50 kg bag a year ago has gone up to Rs 573. The Pottassium price too has gone up to Rs 528 from its previous year’s price of Rs 310, he said.
Factomphos and Pottassium are the two commonly used fertilizers in the paddy fields of Upper Kuttanad and the peasants, especially the middleclass farmers are reeling under the steep fertilizer price hike.
Various surveys have revealed that paddy cultivation in the State has been drastically dropped during 1975 to 2010. The latest economic survey report has put the State’s area of paddy cultivation at a mere 2.5 lakh ha.
Records available with the State Planning Board too show that Kerala has lost over 5,00,000 hectares of paddy fields between 1980 and 2007.