Idukki: panel submits report

George Jacob

Concern over climate change

Market regulation mechanism mooted

Thrust on infrastructure

KOTTAYAM: The M.S. Swaminathan Commission, appointed by the Central government to study the distressed farm sector in Idukki district, has submitted its report to Union Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar, team leader S. Balaravi has said.

Speaking to The Hindu over the telephone on Thursday, Dr. Balaravi said one of the issues of concern that the report dealt with in detail was the change in the climatic conditions of the district, which was directly linked with widespread destruction of forest cover. The commission did a detailed study of the rainfall in the district during the past seven decades and has found that there has been considerable decline in rainfall. Interestingly, the change has affected mainly the southwest monsoon and not the northeast Monsoon. This change will have its cascading effect on adjoining districts such as Kottayam and Ernakulam and needs further studies.

According Dr. Balaravi, the report has taken into consideration the aggregate farm loans in the district which come to Rs.650 crore. “The commission has found that 85 per cent of these loans have been taken by small growers in the district,” he said.

A major challenge faced by the farmers in the district is the wild fluctuations of the prices of farm produce, most of which are cash crops. The commission has gone into the issue in detail and come out with recommendations for putting in place a market regulation mechanism.

It has taken note of the special problems faced by the farming community in the district on account of its unfriendly terrain.

The report has made specific recommendations for infrastructure development initiatives that will have a direct bearing in making the movement of farm produce and farm labour.

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