KOCHI: The state government has been recommended to declare the eco-sensitive ‘pokkali’ fields as ‘heritage agri-villages’ for protecting and maintaining them properly.
The recommendation was put forth by a special committee headed by Kerala University of Fisheries and Ocean Studies (KUFOS ) Vice-Chancellor B Madhusudana Kurup. According to the committee, the declaration will help the pokkali fields find a place in the global agricultural heritage map.
The committee also suggested that the government take steps to popularise its ‘one paddy-one fish’ project, which has tremendous scope in coal paddy fields. “In order to maintain and further develop the existing practice of cultivating pokkali paddy and fish in fields, it is necessary to constitute an Act. However, the calendar being currently followed by the farmers - cultivating pokkali paddy between April 15 and October and prawns between November and April - should be maintained without any change,” members of the committee said.
Meanwhile, Excise and Fisheries Minister K Babu approved the suggestions put forth at a workshop held in Kochi the other day.
Further, the committee recommended that a pokkali park be developed at Kadamakkudi panchayat, where pokkali is cultivated on a large scale. “Later, the ‘park’ can be developed into a heritage agricultural site. Also, a scientific centre can be set up there for protecting the genetic quality of pokkali seeds. In order to protect pokkali farming, mechanisation is inevitable, and agencies like the Kerala Agro Industries Corporation Ltd. (KAIC) should intervene in the matter. The state government should extend financial support to such agencies for the development of machinery,” the committee pointed out.
“Fish varieties like ribbon fish should be hatched in the hatcheries and shifted to the coal paddy fields during the off-harvest season for reproduction. The coal paddy fields that are lying idle should be identified for farming. Each field should be brought under the respective Matsya Bhavan for the purpose,” it stated.
“Since the coal paddy fields are also facing severe labour crisis, modern machinery should be introduced as an alternative,” the committee said.