Kerala’s own pokkali scripts success in Sundarbans
Pokkali — the only variety of paddy that can grow in high-salinity soil — was successfully cultivated by farmers of Sundarbans on an experimental basis
ALAPPUZHA: The Sundarbans region of South 24 Parganas district of West Bengal is scripting success in the cultivation of pokkali, one of the rarest varieties of paddy being cultivated only in marshy lands filled with brackish water in the coastal areas of Alappuzha, Ernakulam and Thrissur districts.
Pokkali — the only variety of paddy that can grow in high-salinity soil — was successfully cultivated by farmers of Sundarbans on an experimental basis, after vast tracts of paddy land were filled with brackish water due to the impact of cyclone Yass in May this year, said Prof Soumitro Banerjee, professor of Indian Institute of Science Education and Research, Kolkata.
“The entire cultivation came to a halt and we started searching for a paddy variety that can survive in brackish water. We came to know about the pokkali variety being cultivated in Kerala via the internet. We contacted Francis Kalathunkal, a member of Breakthrough Science Society (BSS) of Alappuzha, and he arranged the seeds. We distributed it to a few farmers and conducted farming in June. It has become a huge success,” Banerjee told The New Indian Express over phone from Kolkata said. He is also the general secretary of BSS national chapter.
“Prof Banerjee contacted me and asked for pokkali seeds. I sent the consignment through courier. We also gave the contact details of the scientists of Rice Research Station (RRS), Vyttila, and they gave advice to farmers on how to conduct pokkali farming. With the advice of the scientists there, the farmers conducted farming at various locations of South 24 Parganas. Now the paddy has flowered as a ray of hope to hundreds of farmers,” said Francis, general convener, Pokkali Samrakshana Samithi, an organisation for the protection of farming in Kerala.