Need to revive paddy cultivation stressed

The need for reviving paddy cultivation in the district was stressed at a workshop on ‘Land Utilisation and Agriculture Biodiversity’ held here on Tuesday.

The programme was organised by the BioDIVA, a four-year joint project initiated by the M.S. Swaminathan Research Foundation (MSSRF) and Leibniz University, Germany, for revitalising rice cultivation in Wayanad.

Delivering the keynote address, Nidhi Nagabhatla, senior scientist, Institute of Environmental Planning, Leibniz University, and Scientific Coordinator of the project, said that a drastic change had taken place in the land utilisation of the district in three decades.

Close to 1,600 hectares of land had been utilised for paddy cultivation in Vellamunda panchayat of the district alone in 1970s, but nearly 50 per cent of the land was diverted to banana cultivation at present. Such a change had taken place in most parts of the district. This would adversely affect the food security of people, especially of the Kuruma and Kurichya tribes, Dr. Nidhi said.

The massive loss of paddy fields would also affect water recharging capacity of the soil, ecological connectivity, and the cultural identity of the people in the district, she said.

The talk presented remote sensing data-based analysis to show how change in area under rice cultivation could impact socio-economic dependence and disrupt ecological services derived from rice farming.

Integration of scientific analysis with local knowledge was important for planning long term sustainable land use strategies and to ensure local level food security, conservation of social and cultural practice of rice cultivation and preservation of local agro biodiversity, Dr. Nidhi said.

Delivering the presidential address N. Anilkumar, director, MSSRF, said that his organisation would apply the findings of the project in its rice development programmes in the district.

N.K. Rasheed, district panchayat president, inaugurated the programme.

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