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Kerala paying the price for neglecting agriculture

G. K. Nair Kochi | Updated on December 27, 2012

Steep rise in prices of rice, essential commodities

There have been noisy protests in Kerala Assembly over steep rise in prices of rice and other essential commodities in the State.

The price of rice increased by Rs 5 to 10 a kg following disruption in supply from Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh. Kerala is dependent on other States for foodgrains, vegetable, milk, chicken, eggs etc.

If there are disruptions in the procuring centres or en route, there will be severe hardship in the State.

“It is a vital issue which needs to be given a serious thinking,” says Thomas Peeliyanickal, Executive Director, Kuttanad Vikasana Samithi (KVS).

Shortage

When Karnataka Government stopped financial assistance to growers of ‘Jyothi’ rice which was being sold in Kerala market, the farmers stopped its cultivation.

Increase in export of rice, coupled with transportation problems, stopped or delayed movement of rice from Andhra Pradesh, resulting in shortage of the staple food here, pushing up prices, he said.

The area under paddy cultivation in the State has come down sharply following indiscriminate reclamation in the name of development and modernisation.

On the other hand, no steps have been taken either to improve or develop suitable paddy varieties so as to raise the productivity of paddy in the existing fields, Thomas said.

Reclamation

Vast stretches of paddy fields are reclaimed for tourism projects, airports and even cricket grounds, a senior scientist at the Centre for Earth Science Studies (CESS) said.

“Surprisingly, most of the developers are reportedly looking for vast stretches of wetlands/forestlands for creating airports/ resorts etc,” he said.

Vast stretches of agricultural land in Idukki's Anakkara region are reportedly under threat of being reclaimed for a proposed airport. Even Kuttanad, granary of Kerala is also not spared. The area under paddy in this region has already shrunk to around 37,000 hectares from around 55,000, said Thomas.

Published on December 27, 2012

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