KOCHI: To find out whether traditional rice varieties of Kerala were affected by the mid-August floods, the Kerala Biodiversity Board has completed a survey, which has covered 184 panchayats in 13 districts. As part of the assessment, the Board has also interacted with the custodians of traditional seed varieties in flood-affected areas, said a Board officer.
“The survey report will be compiled before November 15. Based on the report, further steps will be taken, including district-level training workshop for the farmers so as to conserve the available traditional rice varieties,” said Preetha, Technical Associate, Biodiversity Board.
Earlier, the Board prepared a People’s Biodiversity Registry (PBR), which found that 55 species of traditional rice varieties are already extinct due to multifarious reasons. These include Kerala’s own varieties such as “Kochaandan”, “Chaara”, “Chuvannaaran” and “Anachoodan”.The Board has already requested a selected few farmers, who are in possession of these traditional and rare varieties, to cultivate them for the next generation, said the Board officer. One of the major reasons for the traditional varieties becoming extinct, according to them, is that the farmers going behind the high-yielding varieties.
Johnson Oliyapuram, a traditional rice farmer, told Express that the floods have affected the fertility of the soil. “The traditional rice varieties that we have sown before the floods have grown well. However, farmers are now facing various issues during the post-flood sowing. The main problem is that the fertility of the soil has been affected.
The fertile topsoil was washed away by the flood water in many areas,” he added. Johnson said he has used Rakthsaali, Navara, Mullan Kaima, Gandhasaala, Jeerakasaala, and Kothandan this year. Nearly forty of the traditional farmers are the custodians of some rare rice seeds which are on the verge of extinction. “We hope that the efforts will be taken by the government to protect these seeds and help in its proper conservation,” he added.