A Correspondent

State lacks system to give farmers hybrid seed varieties

Kattappana: Even as Food and Civil Supplies Minister C. Divakaran claims that vegetables from Idukki district would be procured to arrest the spiralling prices and shortage of supply, the farmers in Munnar, Marayoor, Kanthalloor and Vattavada grama panchayats where vegetables are grown, sell the produce in Mettupalayam and Ottanchithiram markets in Tamil Nadu. The vegetables are repacked at these markets before being sent to different markets in Kerala.

The vegetables cultivated in the four panchayats are mainly carrots, potatoes, cabbages and beetroot.

A farmer in Vattavada grama panchayat said that most of the farmers had availed of advances from businessmen in Mettupalayam and sell the produce at prices set by them – a reason for low remuneration to the farmers but high prices for vegetables in the Kerala market. Farmers are also purchasing seeds from Mettupalayam as there lacks a system to get hybrid varieties in the State.

The farmers accept advances at the time of sowing the seeds as they are mostly poor and the amount is deducted when the harvest is sold. This is a system most of the farmers in the four panchayats are following for years. “Those who do not receive advances too sell their produce to businessmen from Mettupalayam and Ottamchithiram” he said. Farmers from remote places carry their produce on mules in the absence of proper transportation facilities and poor communication system.

In Vattavada grama panchayat, which has the lowest literacy rate in the state, there is no other activity than vegetable farming.