Farming being revived on 350 acres of polders
The winds of change in the sleepy village of Kalliyoor, near Vellayani here, is quite visible with the district panchayat embarking on an ambitious programme to revive cultivation in around 350 acres of ‘Pandarakarai Padasekharam’ (polder), once a verdant area.
One could see on a morning visit to the area, a large number of local women enthusiastically engaged in weeding the paddy fields so as to make the land cultivable. These women are engaged by the district panchayat under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MNREGS).
“We have cleaned up a large stretch of the area and in places where weeding is over, people have started cultivating paddy and vegetables. It is a mixed trend, while some have shown interest in reviving paddy cultivation others are cultivating banana and vegetables,” Sudhakaran, representative of farmers’ forum in Kalliyoor, said.
Expressing optimism in bringing back the area to its pristine glory, he said “the polder was once a major contributor to the rice markets in the city and adjoining areas. The fields are fertile and the recent efforts to strengthen the storage capacity of the canal, known locally as ‘Kannukalithodu,’ will help re-charge groundwater and protect vegetation from floods,” he said.
The enthusiasm of the MGNREGS workers is quiet understandable as apart from the days of guaranteed income, they have the option of taking up cultivation on their own after entering into agreements with the landowners. Shanthi, a worker, said she had already made enquiries with a few owners on the option of cultivating paddy in stretches already cleaned.
“Some gave a favourable response and a couple of them turned down my offer. As both of us [she and her husband] are farmhands we plan to cultivate paddy. Already we are cultivating paddy in one acre of leased land in a nearby locality. Since we are doing the work on our own, paddy cultivation is profitable,” she said.