The latest ‘Season and Crop' report, released by the Directorate of Economics and Statistics recently, revealed that the Total Cropped Area (TCA) in the Union Territory had dropped for the fifth consecutive year in 2009-2010 and was now 31,910 ha when compared to 32,768 ha in preceding year.

However, this was an improvement when compared to the decrease between 2008 and 2009, which registered a fall of 1,914 ha in TCA compared to 858 ha in 2009-2010.

According to the report, the Net Sown Area (NSA), defined as area sown with any crop at least once in any of the three cropping seasons and which usually reflected the trend in the TCA, also dropped from 19,205 ha in 2008-09 to 18,734 ha in 2009-2010.

Paddy cultivation, though, increased marginally with 20,926 ha covered with the crop. This was an increase of 146 ha from 2008-2009. The production of rice also saw an improvement with total out-turn for 2009-2010 put at 52,330 tonnes compared to 50,716 tonnes in the preceding year. There was also an improvement in the average yield with every hectare of paddy cultivated land producing 2501 kilograms of rice.

But the success story of the year was clearly sugarcane, which registered a substantial increase in total production from 1, 62,323 tonnes in the 2008-2009 to 2,47,254 tonnes in 2009-2010.

Officials at the Agriculture Department said that the reason for this substantial rise in sugarcane production could be the result of farmers adopting more scientific methods of cultivation and also the help of sugar mills which entered into agreements with the farmers and provided them quality inputs. Other factors such as a normal weather pattern also contributed to the increase, they said.

On the wages paid for agriculture labourers, the report said that ploughmen earned an average of Rs. 370 in 2009-2010. Among sowers and transplanters, men earned an average wage of Rs. 202.86 whereas the women earned Rs. 107.10.