Agri Business

Ruthless sun lays granary bare

GK Nair Kottayam | Updated on January 13, 2018 Published on March 13, 2017

dryland

The Kuttanad region, covering Alappuzha and Kottayam districts, forms the State’s granary along with Palakkad.

It is one of the few places in the world where farming is carried out at the lowest altitudes, at around 1.2 to 3.0 m (4 to 10 ft) below sea level.

Skills and ingenuity helped farmers perfect the art of below-sea-level farming, which has contributed well to the conservation of the biodiversity and ecosystems.

But the current drought has taken a toll on the standing crop. A third of the present sown area of 26,000 has suffered, says Thomas Peeliyanickal, Executive Director, Kuttanad Vikasana Samithi. Intrusion of saline water has aggravated the situation. In areas where plants have sprouted, the grains have lost weight. In others, the grains have matured early.

Farmers are compelled to harvest the premature crop. It has resulted in weight loss of over 30 per cent, he said.

The procurement agencies are now lifting 115-120 kg of paddy instead of 100 kg in order to produce 67 kg of rice after milling. Farmers have no option but to give in meekly.

They do not have adequate insurance coverage either. For a crop loss of ₹50,000, they can hope to get only ₹5,000. Neither is a calamity fund in place as fall-back option.

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Published on March 13, 2017
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