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Kerala - Alappuzha Printer Friendly Page   Send this Article to a Friend

Farmers in Kuttanad lose paddy crop

By Our Staff Reporter

ALAPPUZHA, SEPT. 8. Severe pest attack and viral diseases have affected the paddy crop cultivated on more than 2,000 hectares of fields in Kuttanad. This is likely to result in heavy loss to farmers there.

Farmers' organisations in Kuttanad said the farmers of Nedumudy panchayat had been hit the most. Paddy crop, which could have been normally harvested within two weeks, had been completely damaged, they said.

Farmers said that it was the first time in history that pest attacks had completely damaged crops. They said the total loss would amount to several crores of rupees.

According to the farmers, the present outbreak of diseases had seriously affected some of the disease-resistant varieties of paddy recently introduced in Kuttanad. The pest attack had also affected the conventional varieties cultivated in Kuttanad.

Saltwater intrusion

They said the pest attack had come at a time when the farmers had been hit by the intrusion of saltwater that had damaged during the last harvest season.

While the State Government had promised Rs.1,200 an acre to paddy farmers whose crops had been damage due to salt water intrusion, the actual amount received by the farmers had been only Rs.600 an acre, noted farmers.

They said the paddy cooperative societies in Kuttanad were also not helping them.

Officials of the Agricultural Department said that the continuing intrusion of salt water into the agricultural lands in the Kuttanad and the failure of the farmers to stick to a common agricultural calendar for cultivation were among the reasons that had intensified the pest attack.

No paddy cultivation

Meanwhile, a large number of small farmers in Thakazhi panchayat in Kuttanad have decided not to cultivate paddy in the coming season following the failure of the authorities to distribute free paddy seeds to farmers as promised by the Government.

The farmers noted that former Chief Minister, A.K. Antony, had promised free paddy seeds when he visited the area the previous year in May to get first-hand information of the loss incurred by farmers due to salt water intrusion.

The farmers said the officials of the Agriculture Department had demanded money for the seeds when they approached local Krishi Bhavans.

In the meantime, the continuing intrusion of salt water had destroyed paddy saplings in more than 2,500 acres of fields in the Thottappally and Karuvatta panchayats of upper Kuttanad.

Farmers said that this was due to the authorities neglecting to close the inlets through which salt water enters Kuttanad on time.

The process of closing inlets using sand bags is still going on at present.

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