Mangaluru

Land under paddy cultivation declines in Udupi district

Labour problem, high input costs and lack of remunerative prices are some ofthe reasons for the decline in paddy cultivation in Udupi district. File photo   | Photo Credit: NOAH SEELAM

Though the paddy is the chief agricultural crop of Udupi district, the land under paddy cultivation has been declining over the years. According to the Department of Agriculture, paddy was being cultivated in 69,594 hectares (ha) in Udupi district in 1998-99. It came down to 62,290 ha in 2004-05. It further slipped to 57,509 ha in 2009-10. It was cultivated in 51,597 ha in 2013-14. Paddy cultivation had declined by 17,997 ha in the district in the last 16 years.

Reasons for decline

Labour problem, high input costs, small and scattered land holdings, lack of remunerative prices, absentee landlordism and attack by wild animals are some of the reasons for the decline in paddy cultivation in the district. In the last two decades the farmers have been dependent on farm labourers coming from other districts now.

B.V. Poojary, a farmer in Perdoor village, used to cultivate paddy in 12 acres of land 20 years ago. Now he cultivates it only in 1.5 acres. “Paddy cultivation is difficult as it requires 10 to 15 farm workers for transplanting and harvesting work. We have to pay a minimum of Rs. 400 per day per worker, including food and snacks,” he said.

Last year the government provided a Minimum Support Price (MSP) of Rs. 1,600 per quintal of paddy. But paddy farmers were not enthused by this because of the delay in starting Paddy Procurement Centres in the district. Besides, the farmers have to wait for a week to get the money.

The middlemen go right to the doorsteps of the farmers and collect the paddy, while farmers have to bring it to the centres. “The middlemen pay them on the spot, but the farmers have to wait for at least a week to get MSP,” said Anthony Maria Immanuel, Joint Director for Agriculture.

Input costs

Ramakrishna Sharma, who cultivates paddy in one acre in Bantakal village, said that cost of production per kg of rice was Rs. 25. But the MSP was just Rs. 16 per kg last year. “Small and scattered land holdings increase the cost of transportation of water and fertilizers and other input costs. The farm workers coming from other districts are not skilled,” he said.

In some places wild animals attack paddy fields adding to the woes of the farmers. Some farmers have given up paddy. Others have reduced the area under paddy cultivation and have taken to horticultural crops such as arecanut and coconut.

Demonstrations

To encourage paddy cultivation, the Department of Agriculture has been popularising the ‘System of Rice Intensification’ (SRI) methodology. It has also been conducting demonstrations on using new techniques and mechanised paddy farming in the villages.

Last year, the Department had a target of bringing 20,000 ha under SRI cultivation. The Department crossed the target by getting 22,000 ha under SRI cultivation.

“Though our target for SRI cultivation is 30,000 ha this year, we are unlikely to reach it due to delayed monsoon. We will urge the Deputy Commissioner to start Paddy Procurement Centres sooner this year so that farmers can take advantage of the MSP,” Mr. Immanuel said.


Our code of editorial values

This article is closed for comments.
Please Email the Editor

Printable version | Jun 23, 2021 4:37:14 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Mangalore/land-under-paddy-cultivation-declines-in-udupi-district/article6286871.ece

Next Story