Global centre for below sea-level farming soon

An international centre for research and training in a ‘below sea-level farming system’ will be launched in Alappuzha district in February, 2016.

It will be the first of its kind in the country. The guidelines for setting up of the centre were discussed at a government-level meeting a week ago, top officials told The Hindu .

The centre is expected to collaborate with SAARC countries and disseminate information across the world as envisaged by Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO).

FAO recognised

The Kuttanad below sea-level farming system had been recognised by the FAO as a Globally Important Agricultural Heritage System (GIAHS) after a project proposal was submitted by the M.S. Swaminathan Research Foundation (MSSRF) and the State government.

The GIAHS status accorded to the unique farming practices of Kuttanad could open up new vistas for international research in agriculture.

The initiative is also expected to attract more international attention to the ecology of Kuttanad, thus ushering in a vibrant tourism related to agriculture, involving visits to farms. The Kuttanad farming system has some similarities to the ‘polder’ mode of farming in the Netherlands, which requires further studies, scientists say.

Research would help utilise traditional knowledge in developing appropriate technologies which might of immense help to farmers, S. Leenakumari, head of Moncompu Rice Research Station, told The Hindu . The new centre would have close collaboration with the Moncompu station.

“New methods of farming suited to the region, so as to optimise yield, could be evolved at the centre. Appropriate training to farmers could go a long way in ameliorating their hardships. It is not merely financial benefit that can make a difference in the lives of farmers,” she said. But Kuttanad Vikasana Samithi, an organisation with deep roots among the farmers of Kuttanad, is not enthusiastic about the arrival of one more research centre. “There are several research institutions in agriculture, but the farmers continue to be in deep distress. Opening up of yet another centre may not make a significant change in their fortunes,” Samithi Executive Director Father Thomas Peelianikkal said, echoing the sentiments of a cross section of farmers.

There should be regular interaction between the scientific community and the farmers. Researchers and other official representatives should get in touch with the farmer at the farm every other day to study the problems at the grassroots. He mooted visits by the concerned on a daily basis to see for themselves the developments at the sites.

Centre to collaborate with SAARC countries

Kuttanad system similar to Dutch polder farming

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Printable version | Oct 22, 2021 10:35:03 AM |

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