Special Correspondent

KOCHI: A study conducted by Kerala State Land Use Board has revealed that the area under paddy cultivation had been reduced from 10 per cent of the total land to 6 per cent in Ernakulam district since 1970s. The area under paddy cultivation had been reduced from 47327.81 hectares to 29977.28 hectares over a period of 30 years.

The conversion has been significant in Mulamthuruthy, Alangad, Muvattupuzha and Parakkadavu blocks. Much of the paddy fields were converted for taking up construction purposes in areas adjoining Cochin airport, which falls under Parakkadavu block. Conversion to rubber is predominant in blocks lying along highlands such as Muvattupuzha, Mulanthuruthy and Kothamangalam.

Paddy is cultivated as a single crop, double crop and triple crop at various places in the district.

Decreasing returns

The area under double crop is more extensive amounting to 53 per cent of the paddy cultivated areas whereas a single crop is raised in 16 per cent of the total paddy cultivated area. Of the total paddy fields, 7 per cent of the land is left uncultivated, according to the study.

The pokkali system of rice cultivation where paddy and prawn culture are taken up, is carried out in 20 per cent of the area. But, the pokkali system of paddy cultivation is being replaced by prawn cultivation alone in most parts because of decreasing returns from paddy cultivation. Conversion of areas for mixed crop cultivation took place in 8163.50 hectares while an area of 3439.01 hectares was converted for coconut cultivation. A total of 3439.01 hectares were converted for coconut cultivation. The conversion from paddy to banana cultivation took place in 1056.54 hectares.

The study cautions against the trend of conversion, pointing out that if the trend is not arrested, paddy lands and wetland areas will be destroyed which could result in unprecedented situations.