Combine harvesters employed at Panakari in Peringara
The season of paddy harvest has begun in upper Kuttanad, the rice bowl of Pathanamthitta.
Peasants and farm workers launched the harvest on the paddy fields of Panakari at Peringara village on Thursday.
As many as four combine harvesters were pressed into service for the harvest at Peringara due to the shortage of farm labour, Sam Eapen, Upper Kuttanad Nel-karshaka Samiti president, said.
Talking to The Hindu, Mr. Eapen said the unprecedented summer and pest attacks were likely to affect paddy production this year. He said shortage of workers and the heavy labour cost had been plaguing the farm sector in the region.
He said more combine harvesters would be brought from Tamil Nadu to speed up harvest in the region. Harvest would begin soon at the Padvinakom-A and B, Kaippuzhakka, and Vengal-Irukara paddy fields. He said the farmers were a disappointed lot due to the shooting cost of production, labour and transportation expenses. The heavy farming cost had already eaten into the farmers’ profits. The government had fixed the handling charge for 100 kg paddy at Rs.12 ten years ago, which was inadequate compared to the prevailing transportation expenses of Rs.150 to Rs.170. The harvester operators charged Rs.1,450 to Rs.1,500 for an hour. Mr Eapen said the government should address the problem by constructing eco-friendly temporary bund- cum- motorable roads across the paddy fields in upper Kuttanad.