Special Correspondent

Project envisaged in 83 hectares under Tsunami Rehabilitation Programme

Seven self-help groups formed for the cultivation

Total project cost is Rs.38.58 lakh

KANNUR: Traditional brackish water paddy and shrimp farming system will be revived in 83 hectares of fallow land in the district under the Tsunami Rehabilitation Programme (TRP).

The project, for which Rs.50 lakh has been set apart under the TRP, is being implemented jointly by the Departments of Fisheries and Agriculture and it envisages integration of the National Rural Employment Guarantee Programme (NREGP).

It is hoped that the project to revive of paddy and shrimp cultivation in 83 ha of land Azhikode, Elayavur, Pinarayi, Narath, Kannapuram and Ezhome panchayats in the district will help conversion of 457 ha of land for the integrated organic farming system known as ‘kaipad’ farming in the brackish water paddy fields in the district.

Two components

Agriculture Department officials here say that the project is being implemented as two components: revival of rice-cum-shrimp/fish cultivation in 35 ha and of organic rice farming in 48 ha of land.

Seven self-help groups, with each group having 10 farmers, have been formed for the rice-cum-shrimp cultivation in the Ezhome, Cherukunnu and Kannapuram panchayats. Each unit will do the traditional paddy-shrimp farming in five-hectare ‘kaipad’ land.

The total project cost is Rs.38.58 lakh.

The traditional brackish water paddy-shrimp farming system involves one crop rice and two crop shrimp/fish. According to the officials 3,000-3,300 kg of rice per ha can be harvested a year while the traditional capture-based aquaculture will yield 600 kg shrimp/ha and 300 kg fish/ha a year.

The second component of organic rice cultivation in the six panchayats involves an operational cost of Rs.11.41 lakh.

Returns from 48 ha of organic rice farming is expected to be 3,500 kg/ha. According to the official, the rice from ‘kaipad’ land can be marketed as ‘organic rice’ under a brand name with organic certification.

Unique process

The ‘kaipad’ farming practice is unique. The diversity of flora in the brackish wetland has a positive effect on paddy as well as aquaculture, the officials say adding that shrimps and fish are cultured simultaneously with rice during cropping period as well as post-harvest period.

The project envisages construction of bunds with sluices around plots under cultivation so as to regulate water flow.

Planting of mangroves on the outer parts of the bunds is also proposed to create conditions for increased biodiversity and fishery wealth as also to protect the bunds.

The revival of 83 ha for paddy and shrimp farming is expected to not only yield income but also enhance job opportunities.