Fallow fields to be brought under paddy

Special Correspondent

More incentives for farmers

11,500 hectares brought under paddy cultivation

New schemes to be inaugurated today

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: More fallow paddy fields will be brought under cultivation in the coming season in various districts, Minister for Agriculture Mullakkara Ratnakaran has said.

Addressing a press conference here on Thursday, the Minister said that sowing of seeds in 500 hectares in Kadapra panchayat of Pathanamthitta district would take place on Friday. The area had been remaining fallow for 12 years.

He would inaugurate the district-level implementation of various schemes under the banner of “Ellavarum Padathekku.’ Transport Minister Mathew T. Thomas would preside.

Mr. Ratnakaran said that 11,500 hectares of fallow fields had already been brought under paddy cultivation with participation of the public in various districts. These included 426 hectares in Thrissur district which had been remaining fallow for 30 years and 1,324 hectares in Kollam district which had not been cultivated for 25 years. Steps were afoot to cultivate paddy fields in the Kattampalli area of Kannur district next year.

He said that farmers were being provided with interest-free loans, free electricity, group farming support, crop insurance and production bonus to increase paddy production in the State.

Besides, paddy was being procured at Rs.11 a kg and processed in modern rice mills. The government had also introduced green card for farmers to help them avail themselves of loans and other benefits and formed the paddy board to support cultivation.

The overall objective was the doubling of production. People from various walks of life, including students, were supporting the effort. Several poets had written songs about the programme.

He said the State now had to import 80 per cent of its requirement of rice from other States because of reduction in the area under paddy and production.

The outgo was of the order of about Rs.4,000 crore a year.

Similarly, straw worth Rs.80 crore was being brought to the States every year from other States.

The Minister parried questions on the move to bring an Ordinance to increase the strength of the General Council of the Kerala University through inclusion of ex-officio members and nominations which had been kept in abeyance by Chief Minister V.S. Achuthanandan.

“The election process to the council is on,” the Minister pointed out without commenting on the fate of the Ordinance.

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