Farmers here a worried lot

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Water distributory to Pattupurakkal polder closed by authorities

The expansive paddy fields at the Pattupurakkal polder may seem like a piece of rural idyll but a closer look will reveal the early signs of wilting – shrivelled plants and patches of dry, cracked earth.

With the mercury soaring, farmers are bracing for a harsh summer and adding to their woes irrigation authorities have closed the distributary from the KIP canal to their polder.

“About 50 acres of paddy is currently withering. In our 75-acre polder, only 25 acre is getting irrigated. The entire field is now at the grain formation stage and the water supply has been cut,” says Chandrasekharan Pillai, one of the farmers.

Over 60 farmers

Pattupurakkal polder in Kareepra grama panchayat has over 60 farmers who never leave their land fallow and work on both the seasons. Chandrasekharan says they had to face a similar situation last year too.

“Last year, they opened the canal late and we could save only 25% of our crop. We can claim the insurance only when the entire crop is lost and we also received no financial aid from the government,” he says.

Many farmers had to depend on bank loans last season and they say it will be difficult to scrape through this time if the story repeats.

“A string of officials from different departments visited our polder last summer. They cited some technical issues and even after so many months they have done nothing to rectify the problem,” says Vijayakumar, farmer and a member of the panchayat.

Anandan, who has been cultivating paddy for over two decades, says they never faced such a crisis in the early days.

A ‘repeat’ of last year

“The canal has been feeding our land for long but, of late, we are finding it difficult to manage during summer months. Last year too there was huge loss and we had to take loans to keep the cycle going. These days we are running from pillar to post requesting the authorities to open the canal to no avail,” he says.

The KIP canal is a lifeline for the farmers of Kareepra, irrigating many farmlands that produce commendable quantities of rice. “We usually produce around 100 tonnes of rice from our 75 acres and our panchayat is known for paddy farming. Our ancestors were farmers and we are proud of our paddy fields. But today we are struggling to save our crop,” says Chandrasekharan.

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