Valanthakkad pokkali rice to hit market
If things go as planned, the Valanthakkad brand of pokkali rice will hit the market by the end of this year.
The Maradu municipality, in association with landowners and the Agriculture Department, has taken the initiative to revive pokkali rice farming at Valanthakkad, which was once home to over 100 acres of pokkali field.
“Initially, farming will be undertaken in 15 acres owned by around 10 landowners. We have set apart over ₹6 lakh for the project, including this year’s budgetary allocation and spillover funds, in addition to funds to be made available under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGS).
Maradu municipality has no scope for any other form of farming, and of late, farmers were also concerned that their livelihood was in danger of becoming extinct,” Maradu municipal chairperson Sunila Sibi said.
Apart from landowners, members of volunteer organisations, including Kudumbasree, and, more importantly, youngsters have evinced interest in the project.
Ms. Sibi said it would be a welcome diversion for youngsters.
The Agriculture Department has already booked seeds with the Thrissur-based Kerala State Seed Development Authority for launching the initiative. Since pokkali farming is done during the rainy season, officials are confident of sowing seeds in May-June and reaping the harvest by August-September if the monsoon runs its normal course.
A Padashekara Samiti has also been formed based on a model of the bylaw provided to stakeholders by the Agriculture Department. The Samiti is likely to be registered by the end of this month once the number of landowners joining the initiative is finalised.
“Farmers are hesitant since no farming has been undertaken on the fields for years. That is why we have decided to launch the initiative on a small scale on a parcel of land that could be prepared for farming in a very cost-effective manner. It will be expanded to more areas depending on how successful the initiative is,” said agriculture officer Chithra K. Pillai.
Landowners can either launch farming on their own or give land to the Padashekara Samiti.
Ms. Pillai said assistance for the project could be made available under various schemes as the government’s policy is to encourage cultivation in fallow land.
For instance, funding to the tune of ₹10,000 per hectare is available for non-traditional farming under the Speciality Right Scheme. Municipalities can also propose schemes in accordance with their plans, while one-time funding can be made available under MGNREGS for readying the land.