31 paddy shelters to be set up in three districts

Staff Reporter

Task forces to be given hand-reapers to help the farmers

A team to visit the Paddy Processing Research Centre

ALAPPUZHA: With a view to minimizing the damage caused by unexpected rain and other natural calamities on the paddy fields of Kuttanad, the State government has decided to set up as many as 31 temporary paddy shelters in Alappuzha, Kottayam and Pathanamthitta districts.

Announcing this here on Saturday after a review meeting on preparations of the official machinery from the three districts for the ‘puncha’ crop harvest, Agriculture Minister Mullakkara Ratnakaran said the State Warehousing Corporation would open 20 temporary shelters in Alappuzha, eight in Kottayam and three in Pathanamthitta.

The meeting, which gave priority to the preparations in the Upper Kuttanad belt spread over the three districts, also decided to set up three task forces in each of the districts, comprising students and members of the National Service Scheme (NSS), Kudumbashree units, Nehru Yuva Kendra and other local service organizations.

These task forces, to be led by the respective District Collectors, would be given 3,000 hand-reapers to help farmers in the harvest, Mr. Ratnakaran said.

The Minister, who said that the ‘puncha’ acreage in the three districts had gone up by around 5,000 hectares, said the State Meteorological Department had agreed to provide the District Collectors with daily weather updates, with a forecast of at least five days in advance.

A high-level team would also visit the Paddy Processing Research Centre, Thanjavur and also convene a meeting at Alappuzha in January on modes of processing wet paddy and the possibilities of value added products from such crop.

With the October rains upsetting the agriculture calendar for the ‘puncha’ crop, the Minister said the district-level monitoring committees with Alappuzha Collector V.K. Balakrishnan at its helm was making efforts to ensure that the harvest process was not disrupted.

Measures to ensure adequate fertilizer and the operation of the Thanneermukkom Barrage shutters too were discussed in detail, Mr. Ratnakaran added.

Agriculture Director Tinku Biswal, Kottayam District Collector P. Venugopal, Principal Agriculture Officer (in-charge) Jose Joseph and other officials were present. Earlier, the Minister visited the Rani, Chithira and Marthandam kayal paddy fields along with Mr. Balakrishnan.