Six months after the August deluge, paddy farmers in the State’s rice bowl script a success story during the puncha season
M.V. Thankappan, a seasoned farmer, makes a living from cultivating paddy on five acres at Kanjipadam in Alappuzha district. His life was turned upside down by two back-to-back floods in July and August.
Thankappan suffered huge losses after the entire second crop was washed out. But he was not ready to succumb to the elements and has shown grit and determination in preparing the flood-hit fields for the puncha season.
Six months after the August deluge, smile is back on the face of Thankappan and other paddy farmers in Kuttanad, the rice bowl of Kerala, as they rejoice over a bumper crop.
“Before the floods, I used to get an average yield of two tonnes per acre. But this puncha season, the yield is good and above normal. This will help compensate some of the losses caused by the floods,” says Thankappan.
Blessing in disguise
Sajimon V., a farmer from Kainakary, says the floods have in a way turned out to be a blessing in disguise.
“My field will go under the harvester on March 10. I expect 3 to 3.5 tonnes of production from one acre,” he says.
Senior paddy marketing officer A.V. Suresh Kumar told that farmers in Kuttanad and other parts of the district were getting yield between 2.2 and 3.5 tonnes an acre in the puncha crop season.
“This season, the yield is significantly high. Last puncha season, we procured 1.2 lakh tonnes of paddy. At end of the procurement this season, we expect the production to touch 2 lakh tonnes. The harvest is going on and the Kerala State Civil Supplies Corporation (Supplyco) has procured 2,380.24 tonnes, so far,” Mr. Kumar said.
According to experts, a combination of factors have helped an increase in production of paddy.
“The floodwaters have deposited huge amounts of silt on paddy fields and improved soil fertility. As the second crop was destroyed in entirety in the floods, nutrient depletion had not happened. The absence of pests and diseases has helped too. Above all, the farmers have followed the crop calendar for puncha cultivation. This will help complete the harvest much before the intrusion of saline water,” says Reena Mathew, associate director (in-charge), Regional Agriculture Research Station, Kumarakom.
Farmers have undertaken paddy farming in more than 30,000 hectares (75,000 acres) in Alappuzha district, up from 23,000 hectares last year, a major portion of which is in Kuttanad.
Mr. Kumar said 39,221 farmers had so far registered online with Supplyco for selling their produce.
“We have extended the deadline for online registration to February 28 and expect the number of farmer registration to cross 40,000,” he added.