The government has categorically declared that greening of fallow lands is one of its priorities. However, there appears to be a distinct disconnect in communication, if the response of the Kerala State Civil Supplies Corporation (Supplyco) is any indication.
Encouraged by the government's decision, Chirayath Varghese of Vanginissery decided to convert seven acres of fallow land in Paalakal paddy fields of Avinissery Panchayat to cultivable land. But he was shocked when the Supplyco refused to procure his yield. In the end, a private firm had to come to the rescue of Mr. Varghese.
Mr. Varghese had started farming four moths back only to be a part of the dream project of the Avinissery panchayat to get rid of all its fallow lands by turning them green. He took seven acres of paddy field, which was lying fallow for a long time, on lease. After 110 days of hard work, his paddy field was ready for harvest. But he got a rude shock, when he approached the Agriculture Department for procurement of paddy. "The officials refused to take my produce saying I did not submit prior application for procurement," Mr. Varghese said.
Mr.Varghese, who had taken more than Rs. I lakh as loan for farming, pleaded with the officials saying he would be in deep trouble if he did not get a fair price for the paddy. "They asked me to store the paddy till the next procurement season."
He, however, was lucky, unlike his counterparts in Wayanad. Getting wind of his plight, a private firm in Kandasankadavu came forward to procure the paddy at Rs.15 a kg, the same procurement price offered by the Supplyco. Condemning the insensitive attitude of the Supplyco, the District Karshaka Sangam Joint Secretary Sebi Joseph Pallissery alleged that the government was pushing the farmers into debt traps.