THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: The record paddy harvest made by the state in the current season is an eye-opener for the entire state as it netted the bumper yield, which is around 50-60 per cent higher than the fertiliser-induced farming system, by riding high on the nature-imposed environmental-friendly farming system. The record harvest has not only enlivened the organic farming system in the state, but also reduced the dependence of the state Food and Civil Supplies Department on the Central allotment of the pubic distribution rice quota.
Agriculture Minister V S Sunilkumar said this is the first time in the state’s history that it got record surplus rice from its paddy field. The department is expecting over one lakh MT more rice from the paddy fields this season.
K G Padmakumar, director, International Research and Training Centre for Below Sea level Farming, Alappuzha, said this bumper yield underscores some factors which the state will have to carry forward for a better tomorrow. “First of all, the bumper harvest was not the result of chemical fertiliser-induced farming system. The flood has increased the microbial load in the soil, and water stored in the fields for a particular period has improved the soil conditions. So, the first lesson is we can script success in the soil even without depending on the chemical fertilisers.
Second, this time, the cropping calendar was correctly followed due to the intervention of bureaucratic machinery soon after the flood, which ensured good quality rice coupled with increased production. Third, the bumper yield underscored the need to utilise the paddy fields as water storage facility for a good part of a year as it would increase the soil conditions along with raising the groundwater levels. Further, in over one-third of the area, we have to follow one crop calendar as we can generate a production almost equal to two crops from these areas if we follow the environment-friendly farming system, through which we can address potable water crisis and improve soil conditions,” he said.
When it comes to production side, Food and Civil Supplies Minister P Thilothaman said the state has a quota of around 14.25 lakh MT rice from the Centre and the state used to produce around 3 lakh MT custom-milled rice (CMR) here. The balance rice it used to collect from the Centre. This time, the state’s contribution will be little less than 4 lakh MT rice, which is around 25-30 per cent of the total requirement of the state while it was 10-15 per cent in the past.
Although the state can’t meet its requirement fully domestically, it can reduce the dependence on the Central quota if there is enhanced production, he said. He also said the state government has made steps to distribute the rice it produced in the state through the ration shops under the department. The millers have been directed to hand over the processed rice to the department by August 31, he said.
Millers directed to procure harvested paddy before rain
T’Puram: In the light of record harvest, the state government has convened a meeting of various stakeholders and directed them to effectively handle procurement issues in the sector. Express had published a report showing the plight of farmers when millers slowed down the procurement in the fag end of the season owing to the space constraints in their godowns in the backdrop of the surplus production.
The meeting convened by Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan assigned Food and Civil Supplies Minister P Thilothaman to hold talks with millers and farmers’ representatives to sort out the issues. The state received over one lakh metric tonnes more rice this year against the previous year’s procurement. The meeting also decided to arrange more godown facilities to procure the excess rice before the summer rains. Ministers P Thilothaman, V S Sunilkumar, Food and Civil Supplies secretary Mini Antony, Devender Kumar Singh, agriculture production commissioner and others took part in the meeting.
5.90 lakh tonnes
The paddy which Supplyco procured in April against the seasonal total of 5.84 lakh tonnes in last year
Kerala expects a surplus of over one lakh tonnes of paddy this year owing to the flood which brought fertile alluvial soil to the paddy fields
There are around 48 millers engaged in the procurement and 17 of them were directed to procure the remaining excess paddy before rains
The expanse of land where paddy is getting ready for harvest now at a time when millers drag their feet in procurement citing lack of space
State has Central public distribution system quota of 14.25 lakh tonnes of rice per year
This year, state is expected to produce over 3.5 lakh tonnes of custom-milled rice (CMR) rice domestically which will reduce the dependence of the state on central quota
Millers have been directed to handover the processed CMR rice before August 31