Farmers call for steps to protect pokkali rice cultivation

Pokkali farmers have reiterated their demand that the district administration and the Agriculture Department should do what is needed to protect the unique rice farming system following an order from the High Court of Kerala.

The Pokkali Samrakshana Samithi, working to protect the practice of pokkali rice cultivation, said in a statement that facilities should be put in place to drain saltwater from the pokkali fields to prepare them for rice cultivation in June as the monsoon sets in.

The Samithi said the crop calendar, with the one-fish-one-rice cycle, should be maintained and that shrimp culture could not be allowed throughout the year. The Samithi said that with aquaculture gaining dominance, rice cultivation had been abandoned and that it had become impossible to continue with pokkali rice cultivation.

The High Court had issued an order that the fields should be drained following a petition filed by pokkali farmer Manjadiparambil Chantu, said the Samithi.

The pokkali rice cycle is between April 15 and November 15. The remaining period was used for shrimp and fish culture, which mutually supported each other, said Francis Kalanthungal of the Samithi. He said the cycle had been upset over several seasons and the pokkali rice cultivation faced the threat of being totally wiped out.


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