Kaipad farming, a mode of paddy cultivation in brackish water which was almost abandoned by farmers owing to labour shortage and other issues, is on the revival path thanks to the huge demand for the paddy cultivated.
The Malabar Kaipad Farmers Society, formed in 2010 to promote cultivation of traditional and new varieties of paddy, has been able to procure over 20 tonnes of the produce from farmers this year. Kaipad rice received the Geographical Indication tag in 2014.
“From just 5,000 kg in 2019 to 20,000 kg this year, paddy procured from just four panchayats is a huge leap,” said M.K. Sukumaran, secretary of the society. Still, the society is not able to meet the demand thanks to insufficient stock, he added.
Mr. Sukumaran said when Kaipad farming was launched, it was limited to around 200 acres, but it has grown to a large area, and cultivation is now done in over 2500 acres.
Kaipad farming is done at Ezhome, Cherukkunnu, Pattuvam, Cheruthazham and Ramanthali panchayats.
Mr. Sukumaran said that besides the traditional seed varieties of Kuthiru and Orkayama, new varieties like Ezhome 1, Ezhome 2, Ezhome 3, Ezhome 4, and Mithila were introduced last year.
Labour shortage and huge production cost were the major issues facing Kaipad farming. Making matters worse, mangroves have come up in areas that were left idle for several years. “It is an issue of concern for farmers, as the Forest Department has not granted permission to remove mangroves citing environmental issues,” he informed.
However, the society has been able to enhance production with the support of the Regional Agricultural Research Station (RARS), Pilicode. GI-tagged Kaipad rice is now sold in Kasaragod, Kannur, Kozhikode, Thrissur and Ernakulam districts. The sale is through ecoshops, horticorp, and VFPCK outlets.
Mr. Sukumaran said the procured paddy has huge export potential. A number of companies and traders have approached the society for export of the rice variety. However, the society is not able to meet their demand, as it has stock only up to August, he added.
T. Vanaja, Associate Director of Research, RARS, who introduced five seed varieties for Kaipad farming, said mechanisation of farming would give a boost to the initiative.