Kuttanad farmers gear up for paddy harvest


Farmers in Kuttanad are gearing up for the harvest of the โ€˜punchaโ€™ crop (first crop).

According to the Agriculture Department officials, the harvest will begin later this month. Farmers have undertaken paddy farming in more than 29,000 hectares in the district this season, a major portion of which is in Kuttanad.

โ€œPreparations for the paddy harvest have begun in the district. A meeting to be attended by District Collector A. Alexander is scheduled for February 12. Representatives of farmers, combine harvester machine agents and others will attend the meeting. Steps will be taken to bring combine harvesters from neighbouring States,โ€ said an official of the Agriculture Department.

Sources said that the Mukkodi North and Mukkodi South paddy fields in Edathua would be the first to go under the harvester on February 20.

Procurement

In view of the initial delay in the procurement of paddy in the recently concluded second crop season (additional crop season), the Kerala State Civil Supplies Corporation (Supplyco) has initiated measures to procure the harvested paddy in a time-bound manner this season.

โ€œWe have already started the procurement from the district. Recently, we procured paddy cultivated in the second crop season from a few fields in the Ambalappuzha and Alappuzha municipal area, where harvest took place much later owing to the delay in sowing, after including it on the โ€˜punchaโ€™ crop list. Several mills have already registered, and all measures are in place for the smooth procurement of paddy in the puncha season,โ€ said an official with Supplyco.

In the second crop season, mills initially kept away from procurement after they failed to reach an agreement with the government over compensation for the procured paddy, which got destroyed in the 2018 floods. Following this, the government decided to rope in cooperative societies to procure paddy directly from farmers. However, lack of storage, among other facilities, for cooperative societies in the district, resulted in a delay in the procurement. The impasse ended after an agreement was reached between Supplyco and mill owners.

Many challenges

Meanwhile, farmers in Kuttanad and Upper Kuttanad are sceptical about the yield as they have faced numerous challenges in the puncha season. In the beginning, seeds provided by the government to farmers in Nedumudi, Thakazhi and Veeyapuram failed to germinate. An increase in water level coupled with bund breaches following unseasonal rain destroyed paddy in around 600 hectares in Kuttanad and Upper Kuttanad. Besides, pest attack and wild rice menace have also been reported from several fields.

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