Farmers promise to revive paddy cultivation if land is made cultivable
KANNUR: An expert committee of agriculture scientists visited the Kattampally irrigation project area here on Saturday as part of studying a proposal of farmers and environmental activists for reviving paddy cultivation in large extents of waterlogged areas known as ‘kaipad’ land in the basin of the Kattampally river that have been rendered useless for cultivation as a result of the commissioning of the project.
The expert panel headed by P.V. Balachandran, Associate Director of Research at the Regional Agricultural Research Station (RARS), Pattambi, and also coordinator of the State-level committee for paddy development, met representatives of kaipad farmers and environmental activists at Elayavur Panchayat Hall here in the morning before visiting what were once fields under traditional integrated brackish water rice and shrimp cultivation, known as ‘kaipad’ farming.
The team visited Kakkad, Karikkandichira, Varamkadavu, Puzhathi, Munderikadavu and Narath, among other areas, to make a first-hand assessment of the proposal for reviving rice cultivation in the area.
The three-member panel included K.G. Padmakumar, professor, RARS, Kumarakom; and Neema, Krishi Vigyan Kendra here. The team was accompanied by Agricultural Deputy Director A. Narayanan Namboodiri, Fisheries Deputy Director Dinesh Cheruvat, Kattampally irrigation project assistant engineer I.V. Susheel and P. Jayaraj of the District Soil Testing Laboratory at Karimbam.
The issue of devastation of the Kattampally kaipad areas has hogged the limelight following an interim report submitted by Dr. Balachandran which recommended short and long-term measures to be carried out in the area over a period of three to five years.
The report came under criticism by kaipad farmers in majority of panchayats who said it did not reflect their demand that the shutters of the regulator-cum-bridge be opened to allow tidal action in the downstream and the river basin to revive the kaipad system of cultivation. The visit of the team followed a decision for a wider consultation with the kaipad farmers for recommending measures to make the area cultivable again.
The kaipad farmers and environmental activists told the committee members that large extents of kaipad land could be revived for rice cultivation if the shutters were opened. The farmers said they would revive paddy cultivation if the kaipad land, now left fallow as a result of soil hardening after the commissioning of the project, could be turned cultivable. They said that the kaipad system of cultivation was a rotational farming of paddy and shrimp. Only one crop of paddy used to be grown on kaipad land during monsoon when salinity of the soil was minimal, they said.
Dr. Balachandran told the farmers that he had understood their sentiments. He also said that he would meet people’s representative and convey to them the sentiments of the farmers. Dr. Padmakumar said that the committee was in favour of a holistic approach in the area that had witnessed changes in land pattern and agricultural practices.
Kaipad farmers K. Kunhi Mamoo, K.K. Madhavan, C.P. Abdulla and environmental activists Rameshan Mamba and Hari Chakkarakkal were among those spoke at the meeting.