Prime reasons are shortage of harvesters and labour, and heavy summer rain
Paddy harvest in the Upper Kuttanad villages of Thiruvalla taluk is being hampered by summer rain and shortage of mechanised harvesters.
The district administration had directed Agriculture Department officials to procure more harvesters from Tamil Nadu two days ago. However, the officials reportedly found it difficult to hire the harvesters since most of them were already being used in the State and in Tamil Nadu.
Sam Eapen, Upper Kuttanad Nelkarshaka Samiti (UKNS) president, said three of the 13 harvesters used in the Upper Kuttanad villages of Peringara, Niranom, Kuttoor, Kadapra, and Nedumpram had been damaged.
Also, farmers were unable to use the machines since many fields in the area were waterlogged. Mr. Eapen added that at least 50 harvesters were needed to harvest the crop in Upper Kuttanad in a time-bound manner.
The shortage of farm workers too is posing problems. Though 9,000 farm workers are registered with the Farm Workers' Welfare Board in Thiruvalla taluk, barely 150 of them are available for harvest, according to Mr. Eapen.
“Many people registered their names with the Board just to avail of benefits sanctioned by the government to farm workers. They do not want to work in the fields. The government should see to it that those registered with the Board are available for harvest,” he said.
According to him, development at the cost of nature has begun to backfire in Kuttanad through untimely rains and waterlogged fields. “It is time to undo the wrongs done to Kuttanad in the name of development,” he added.
Mr. Eapen added that the relief announced by the government (Rs.10,000 a hectare) for farmers who lost crops in untimely rains was grossly inadequate. Not less than 70 per cent of the crop had been lost and farmers incurred a loss of Rs.48,000 per hectare.
He called upon the government to increase the relief to Rs.25,000 per hectare, besides providing seeds, fertilizers, and technical assistance to the farmers for the next season.