Action plan drawn up for paddy fields

Special Correspondent

KALPETTA: Eco-groups and paddy farmers have drawn up an action plan, as part of a `save our rice campaign,' to protect the fast-disappearing paddy fields in Wayand.

"Destruction of paddy is a principal cause of drought in Wayanad. If a portion of funds allotted for drought-relief work is used to give a fillip to paddy cultivation, both farmers and the environment can be protected," N. Badusha, president, Wayanad Prakriti Samrakshana Samithi, said on Friday.

The action plan was drawn up after discussions at a two-day convention of paddy farmers and eco-groups. Eco-activists joined hands with farmers from 16 panchayats to form a group to conserve paddy fields since it was necessary for "Wayanad's survival and agricultural development." Ravindran, farmer from Thavinjal panchayat, said that paddy fields in his panchayat were being convereted into plantain groves and pesticide was also being used indiscriminately. The farmers and social activists said that poisonous pesticides were contaminating the soil and water in Wayanad. Mr. Ravindran demanded urgent measures by local governments to promote organic farming in Wayanad and creation of marketing opportunities for organic farmers.

The campaign, which is part of the Asian Rice Campaign, is led in India by Thanal, a non-governmental organisation, and the Aurangabad-based IIRD.