Demand to withdraw licence for fish farming in pokkali fields

Pokkali rice farmers in Chellanam’s Maruvakkad Paddy Collective have demanded that the fish farming licence issued by the Fisheries Department be immediately withdrawn to allow harvest of about 3.5 acres of fields in the 435-acre paddy collective so that at least seed conservation for the next season can take place.

The Pokkali Samrakshana Samithy, engaged in conservation and propagation of the unique rice variety which is salt-resistant and cultivated without synthetic fertilisers, alleged that the fish farming licence was against existing regulations and it should immediately be withdrawn to allow farmer Chandu Manjadiparambil to reap the ready-to-harvest crop. The Samithy also alleged that the fish farming lobby had opened the sluice gates to allow brackish water to flood the fields on the basis of the licence it had been issued.

A spokesman for the Maruvakkad Paddy Collective said the sluice gates were not opened by paddy collective owners or fish farmers and that the fields were flooded by rainwater and the water in the fields was not salty. The spokesperson also claimed that the Pokkali Padshekara Samithy had always encouraged Pokkali rice farming.

Department’s stance

Fisheries Department sources said the department was not aware that there was rice yet to be harvested when the licence was issued. They also said if there was a delay in harvest, the matter should have been intimated to the department. The department can legally issue licences for fish farming from November 15, centred around the first day of the Malayalam month of Vrichikam. Department sources also said that according to the crop calendar, the harvest should be over by the end of October.

The Pokkali Samrakshana Samithy said sowing had been delayed during the season though field preparation activities are supposed to begin by April 15 according to the normal crop calendar with draining of salt water in the fields. Sowing of seeds takes place normally with the onset of the monsoon but the sowing took place only by the first week of August this year. The paddy matures within 120 days and the harvest can take place only by the first week of December this year. Government institutions involved in maintaining the crop cycle had been informed of the situation and the delay in harvest, said a spokesman for the Pokkali Samrakshana Samithy.

Sources in the Agriculture Department said there had been a delay in sowing of the fields this season, leading to the delay in harvest. The pokkali fields appeared to be flooded as of now, they said. A First Information Report on the situation has been submitted to the District Collector, sources added.

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Printable version | Jan 23, 2022 11:52:07 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Kochi/demand-to-withdraw-licence-for-fish-farming-in-pokkali-fields/article37611563.ece

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