Staff Reporter

Indicate nature of crops that can be grown

Wants ryots to switch over to multi-crop system

State plans to adopt three

crisis-hit villages

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Minister for Agriculture Mullakkara Rathnakaran has suggested that the farmers in Wayanad need to be given soil health cards in view of the acute erosion of soil fertility in the district.

The Minister made this suggestion while releasing a report on “Agricultural crisis, credit and indebtedness of farmers in Wayanad district: Findings of the field survey” prepared by the Department of Economics of Kerala University at the University headquarters here on Tuesday.

He said the cards should indicate quality of soil and the nature of crops that could be cultivated in that land, after conducting appropriate tests. “It would be wrong to suggest to the farmers to switch over to a particular crop without such an analysis,” he added.

Similarly the farmers in Wayanad should also switch over to multi-crop cultivating system instead of the present mono-crop practice. The Minister said the Government was considering a proposal to adopt the three panchayats — Mullankolli, Poothali and Pulpalli — which had been worst hit by the agrarian crisis. The earlier proposal was to adopt only Pulpalli, but the Government was exploring the possibility of adopting all the three in view of the demand from those areas.

The proposal was to conduct exhaustive studies on the agrarian crisis in those panchayats and to implement remedial steps.

Mr. Rathnakaran alleged that the amount sanctioned by the Centre for farm debt relief in Wayanad did not reach farmers in distress and was being diverted to banks.

He appealed to the academic community not to lose sight of the basic role of liberalisation policies in the precipitation of agrarian crisis not only in Wayanad, but across the country. They should conduct studies to scientifically establish the link between the agrarian crisis and liberalisation policies and launch campaigns to get the remedies evolved by them to be included in the Governmental policy prescriptions.

Cause for crisis

Presenting details of the study, the head of the department of Economics B.A. Prakash said crop diseases, drought, fall in crop price and indebtedness were the main factors that had led to the acute agrarian crisis in Wayanad now.

More than half of the people in Wayanad are dependent on agriculture-related activities and nearly 74 per cent of the farmers have less than half a hectare of land. All these factors aggravate the agricultural crisis in Wayanad, Prof Prakash said.

Vice-Chancellor of the University M.K. Ramachandran Nair presided.