KOCHI: The Thottara brand rice cultivated in Thottarapuncha - the paddy hub of Ernakulam once - will be available in the market from the first week of June. Joint efforts from the District Administration, Padasekhara Samithy, local bodies and the general public made cultivation possible in nearly 652 acres of Thottarapuncha which had been lying barren till a couple of years ago. At the harvest festival this year, a total of 1,500 tonnes of rice was reaped from Thottarapuncha. The harvest was processed at the Modern Rice Mill in Vechoor, Vaikkom. Processing and packing were monitored by the Keecheri Cooperative Society.
Nine fields under Thottarapuncha in Kaippattoor, Thottara, Ayyankunnam, Amballoor, Manakkathazham, Kunnamkulam, Thollikkari, Virippachal and Kannakeri were cultivated. Farmers were ably supported by the Edakkattuvayal and Amballoor grama panchayats, Kerala Land Development Corporation and the Kerala State Electricity Board.
Farming began last December, with nearly 20 km of canals cleaned for the purpose. The Thottarapuncha, which spreads across Amballoor and Edakkattuvayal in Ernakulam district and Velloor in Kottayam, has a total area of 1082 acres. After the land acquisition for various projects and canals, nearly 700 acres were left out. Of that, 600 acres were used for cultivation which saw a mix of modern and traditional farming technologies.
Though water was initially removed from the fields using the traditional ‘Pettiyum Parayum’, modern pump sets were introduced later. For the purpose, 12 submersible pumps with a capacity of 7.5 bhp were installed at an expense of Rs 37 lakh.“We will be able to launch the cultivation by October this year and the harvest can be held by next march,” said C K Prakash, coordinating the farming activities on the part of the District Administration.
He said the Thottarapuncha Development Society, which will include the convenors of various Padasekhara Committees along with farmers’ and people’s representatives, will be formed soon.
“The aim is to convert the organisation into a cooperative society in the future. We are also planning to set up a mill for processing paddy. The cost for the facility is estimated at `40 lakh. The processing will be supervised by Kudumbashree workers,” Prakash said.
The District Administration had relaunched cultivation at the Thottarapuncha in 2016-17, bringing nearly 350 acres under cultivation last year. Later, District Collector K Mohammed Y Safirullah convened a series of meetings to coordinate with various departments and farmers. His efforts helped in extending cultivation to 652 acres. The Agriculture Department later handed over 15 mini rice mills to the Padasekhara Samithy. As part of their Corporate Social Responsibility activities, IOC also handed over `14 lakh for the revival of Thottarapuncha.