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Wayanad farmers in distress

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LITTLE REWARD: Workers harvesting paddy from a field of the Murani Padasekhara Samithi in Meenangadi panchayat in Wayanad.
LITTLE REWARD: Workers harvesting paddy from a field of the Murani Padasekhara Samithi in Meenangadi panchayat in Wayanad.

E.M. Manoj

Dearth of procurement agencies and low market price are sore points

KALPETTA: Paddy farmers in Wayanad district are in distress, thanks to dearth of government agencies for procurement, untimely rain, low market price and shortage of labourers.

The spot price of the Matta variety was Rs.925 a quintal at the Meenangadi market on Wednesday against Rs.1,060 a few days back. For the white variety it was Rs.875 a quintal.

The minimum support price for paddy was fixed at Rs.1, 200 a quintal by the State government. But farmers in the region lament that what they get is a meagre Rs.900 a quintal.

“It is sad that we are forced to sell our produce at such a low cost,” says Kesavan Keezhanikkal, a farmer in Panamaram. “Traders push down the price of paddy during the Nancha harvest (winter crop) by citing excessive moisture content,” he says.

The demand for paddy cultivated in the district is very low in the rice mills in Kalady and Palakkad owing to the cultivation of mixed rice varieties. Ibrahim, a paddy trader at Meenangadi says. Further, an increased moisture content owing to the rain is the last straw, he adds.

The farmers point out that though the government is trying to implement various schemes for increasing paddy production, there is no procurement agency in the district.

Owing to unexpected rain during the sowing season, nearly 200 hectares of paddy nursery was destroyed. As a result, most of the farmers began transplantation of paddy a month late. And now low prices stare them in the face.

To add to their woes, there was a spurt in pest attacks and diseases owing to the climatic change. According to Agriculture Department data, 83 hectares of paddy, especially at Mananthavady, Edavaka and Thirunelly panchayats, faced pest attacks.

If the National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme is extended to paddy fields, it will be a great boon to the farmers, says Jose Ilanjimattom, a farmer at Payyampally.

In many parts of the district, the Nanja harvest has not been completed so far owing to the unexpected rain. “If the rain continues, we cannot dry the hay, a main fodder for the cattle,” says Jinachandra Gowder at Panamaram.

“I have spent Rs.19, 000 for paddy cultivation on one acre this Nanja season. But I could get only 20 quintals of paddy after harvest,” says K.P. Kuriakose a small-time farmer at Karachal.

According to the data, paddy has been cultivated in 11,327 hectares for the Nanja crop this year and the expected production is 36,246 tonnes.

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