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It is harvest time at Maranad after ten years

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YIELDING RESULTS: The Maranad paddy fields in Kollam, which remained fallow for 10 years as farming turned expensive and unprofitable, ready for harvest.
YIELDING RESULTS: The Maranad paddy fields in Kollam, which remained fallow for 10 years as farming turned expensive and unprofitable, ready for harvest.

Ignatius Pereira

An initiative of the Government Employees Welfare Society

KOLLAM: After a gap of 10 years, the Maranad paddy fields in Pavithreshawaram grama panchayat in Kollam district wear a festive look.

A paddy cultivation programme undertaken on the initiative of the Government Employees Welfare Society (GEWS) through its Agro-Service Centre has borne fruit. Harvest is on to reap an estimated 30 tonnes of paddy. The success story has had an overwhelming effect, in that more paddy field owners are coming forward to become part of the cultivation programme. The Maranand paddy fields, comprising 100 acres, had remained fallow for 10 years ever since the farmers stopped cultivation after paddy farming turned expensive and unprofitable. There were also moves to convert portions of the field for real estate purposes.

It was at this juncture that the GEWS stepped in. It took farm owners into confidence and offered them 30 per cent of the returns from the harvest for leasing out the fields. In fact, the GEWS proved that paddy cultivation was still a viable proposition. GEWS chairman Kollam Panicker, said being the maiden harvest after 10 years, it would not be a profitable investment, mainly owing to labour charges to clear the paddy fields and prepare it for cultivation. Profits are expected from the next harvest. He said only 50 acres had been cultivated this time adding that in the next season, the entire stretch of 100 acres would be cultivated.

Paddy price continues to rule low at Rs. 7 a kg. So the aim is to convert the harvested paddy into seeds suitable for sowing. Seeds fetch Rs. 14 a kg. and there is not much process involved for conversion. This time it was the `Jyothi' grade of paddy that was cultivated.

Mr. Panicker said Basmati rice would be cultivated in the next season. The soil is apt for it. The cultivation had also brightened the economy of Maranad. More than Rs. 1.75 lakh was spent as labour charges.

He said labour was available in surplus.

The GEWS also appreciated the gesture of the Agriculture Department towards the venture. In connection with the harvest, various rural programmes are being organised.

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