Hurt by heat, paddy output in Kerala takes a beating

From nearly 7,31,182 MT in 2022-23 season, output fell to 4,99,768 MT in 2023-24, suffers I550-crore decline in revenue
Currently, less than 2,000 hectares of the paddy crop in Kuttanad and Upper Kuttanad regions remain to be reaped.
Currently, less than 2,000 hectares of the paddy crop in Kuttanad and Upper Kuttanad regions remain to be reaped. Photo | Express

ALAPPUZHA: Paddy production in the state has dwindled by around 30% due to the scorching conditions. From nearly 7,31,182 metric tonnes (MT) in the 2022-23 season, output fell to 4,99,768 MT in 2023-24. The paddy sector suffered a Rs 550-crore decline in revenue in the latest season.

The harvest season in the state is winding to a close. Currently, less than 2,000 hectares of the paddy crop in Kuttanad and Upper Kuttanad regions remain to be reaped.

Agriculture Minister P Prasad convened a meeting on Tuesday of top officials of the department to evaluate the situation.

Output has declined drastically, says Thomaskutty M, who carried out farming in the Vettikkari polder, under the Punnapra agriculture office. “I cultivated paddy on four acres. Production was around 15 quintals per acre, which in previous seasons stood around 25 to 30 quintals.

Currently, less than 2,000 hectares of the paddy crop in Kuttanad and Upper Kuttanad regions remain to be reaped.
Kerala paddy farmers caught in a vicious circle

Many farmers in the region have suffered losses due to the low production. A yield of at least 20 quintals per acre will allow a farmer to recoup at least production costs. Anything below this results in a loss. For many farmers in Kuttanad, production has been below 20 quintals.

“A good number of farmers in the region carry out cultivation on leased land. The lease on an acre of paddy land is Rs 25,000, which adds to their costs,” points out Thomaskutty, from Punnapra.

The Kerala State Civil Supplies Corporation (Supplyco) procures paddy directly from the fields. “The first crop of the 2022-23 season yielded 2,26,619 MT and the second crop 5,04,563 MT. In 2023-24, first crop season produced 1,53,862 MT and the second crop 3,45,906 MT.

The drop in production was brought on by the extreme heat conditions,” a Supplyco official said. “In the 2022-23, production in Alappuzha came in at 1,69,106.03 MT. This fell to 1,48,512 MT in 2023-24,” the official said. In the latest season, as many as 2,33,465 farmers carried out farming on around 1,47,886 hectares (ha) in the state, of which Alappuzha and Palakkad are major centres. In Alappuzha 44,809 farmers carried out farming on around 35,950 ha. In Palakkad 98,384 farmers carried out farming on nearly 53,203 ha.

“A meeting of agriculture department officials to discuss the drought loss of agriculture will be held at Thiruvananthapuram on Tuesday. After the meeting a decision will be announced,” said minister Prasad.

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