KOCHI: The strenuous efforts by Agriculture Minister V S Sunil Kumar to boost paddy cultivation in the state are yielding results, and if the current trend is any indication, the total area will touch a 10-year high figure in the 2020-21 fiscal. Though the area stood at 1.94 lakh hectares in 2017-18 as per the Economic Survey, Sunil Kumar told Express it should have been 2.20 lakh in reality, if the total sowing area is considered.
“The Economics and Statistics Department is not taking the sowing area into consideration. It just calculates the harvested area,” said the minister.As per the survey, the area under paddy cultivation in 2016-17 had come down to 1.71 lakh hectare from the previous year’s 1.96 lakh.“We faced a big drought in 2016-17 and a total of 58,000-hectare paddy harvest was lost due to it,” the minister pointed out. In 2008-09, the area under paddy cultivation scaled the decade-high 2.34 lakh hectares.
Had there been no drought, the area of paddy cultivation in 2016-17 would have stood at 2.29 lakh hectares, at a touching distance from the 10-year high figure. Sunil Kumar said 2018-19 would mark a dip due to the devastating floods, which completely wiped out the harvest in the Kuttanad region.
One main segment where the Agriculture Minister’s steadfast drive is achieving tremendous success is productivity, with that of rice rising from 2,547 kg/ha in 2016-17 to 2,757 kg/ha in 2017-18.“It’s achieved through various efforts on the ground such as soil-health management, inputs from Agriculture University, etc. We hope to further boost the productivity in coming years,” the minister said.
Some of the initiatives taken during 2018-19 include Rice Innovation Fund for new, eco-friendly and sustainable technologies; and focused interventions for paddy in seven Special Agricultural Zones — Kuttanad, Onattukkara, Pokkali, Kole, Palakkad, Wayanad and Kaipad to enhance production and productivity of rice as well as augment farmers’ income.
The government has been promoting paddy cultivation by providing assistance to undertake fallow land and upland cultivation, conversion of single crop to double crop and promotion of speciality rice. No wonder, 2017-18 saw a 19-per cent increase (5.21 lakh tonnes) in paddy production, compared to 2016-17.
AT A GLANCE
- 2.34L hain 2008-09 is the highest area under paddy cultivation in past 10 years
- 1.94L hapaddy-cultivated area in 2017-18
- 19% rise (5.21 lakh tonnes) in paddy production in 2017-18 from previous year