Sustainability dominates Pokkali farmers’ meet

October 10, 2022 06:52 pm | Updated 06:57 pm IST

Agriculture Minister P. Prasad inaugurating the pokkali rice harvest festival organised by Kadamakudy panchayat and the Kadamakudy-Varapuzha Jaiva Pokkali Cooperative on Monday.

Agriculture Minister P. Prasad inaugurating the pokkali rice harvest festival organised by Kadamakudy panchayat and the Kadamakudy-Varapuzha Jaiva Pokkali Cooperative on Monday. | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

Pokkali farmers met on the sidelines of a pokkali rice harvest festival organised here on Monday under the aegis of Kadamakudy panchayat, on the outskirts of Kochi, and Kadamakudy-Varapuzha Jaiva (Organic) Pokkali Cooperative with sustainability dominating sessions addressed by agricultural officers and farmers.

Agriculture Minister P. Prasad inaugurated the harvest and congratulated farmers for overcoming challenges posed by nature and other impediments and sticking to the traditional cultivation of pokkali rice, a salt water-resistant variety that grows tall and withstands flooding.

The cultivation of the rice variety, which is part of the ‘one fish and one rice’ annual cycle, had been strained over recent years with a tendency among farmers in most parts of the coastal areas of Alappuzha, Ernakulam and Thrissur districts to give it up entirely.

James Arakkal, who has around three acres of pokkali fields, said there were less than 1,000 acres of such rice fields in Kadamakudy and the neighbouring Varapuzha panchayat. Farmers are mostly supported by income from shrimp farming after the rice harvest, while they are also looking to launching projects like homestays, taking advantage of the closeness of pokkali practices to nature and biodiversity.

According to him, government support is badly needed to sustain paddy cultivation in coastal panchayats as rising cost of labour as well as shortage of hands for harvest are posing a challenge to farmers. He said that farmers were also worried about the impact of climate change with unseasonal rain flooding fields ahead of sowing.

An official of the Department of Agriculture said 120 hectares of pokkali fields in Kadamakudy had been brought under cultivation this season. The fields are ready for harvest, and farmers who own between 2.5 and thee acres per head hope to rope in school and college students, volunteers, and other workers to harvest the fields. There are 165 farmers in the panchayat.

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