Kerala legislators join to increase paddy cultivation

January 12th, 2009 - 7:10 pm ICT by IANS  

Thiruvananthapuram, Jan 12 (IANS) Legislators of the Kerala assembly Monday initiated a campaign to save paddy fields from being used for other purposes, as agricultural land area in the state has drastically come down from 347,000 hectares in 2000-01 to 276,000 last year.Cutting across their political differences, the 141 legislators of the assembly have chipped in Rs.1,000 each as capital for cultivating 10 hectares of land for paddy.

Addressing a joint press conference here Speaker K. Radhakrishnan and Agricultural Minister Mulakara Ratnakaran said this was a symbolic message to the rest of the state to save paddy cultivation.

“This unique project has been titled ‘Elaram Padetheku’ (All head to paddy fields) and Kerala Chief Minister V.S. Achuthanandan along with Leader of Opposition Oommen Chandy will inaugurate the project at Vellayani (near here) Wednesday,” said Radhakrishnan.

The government gave the nod for a path-breaking bill this week that will ensure paddy fields not being converted into land for other purposes.

According to figures from the State Planning Board, the area under paddy cultivation came down from 347,000 hectares in 2000-01 to 276,000 hectares in the last fiscal. The production of rice also came down from 751,000 tonnes to 630,000 tonnes during the same period.

“A monitoring committee consisting of experts from the agricultural university will oversee the cultivation process in these 10 hectares. The kanchana variety of paddy would be sown and the yield can be taken in 120 days,” said Agriculture Minister Ratnakaran.

Over the years, the state government has been trying to improve farm productivity by promoting high-yielding varieties. Group farming on an experimental basis has also begun in several places.

“By 2010, we expect an additional 41,000 hectares of new land would come under paddy cultivation,” Ratnakaran said.

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