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Paddy harvest


Paddy harvest on 50,000 acres in Cuddalore district affected

   Samba paddy crop in over 50,000 acres in Cuddalore district has not been harvested yet owing to acute shortage of labourers and non-availability of harvest machines.

Crops that are otherwise ready for harvest well before Pongal festival are now withering in fields and if action is not taken on a war-footing, it would inflict heavy losses, say farmers. Paddy ought to be harvested within 15 days of maturity and if left exposed to the elements in the farms hulling would become difficult as the grains would fall off the stalks, resulting in much lower yield.

Paddy crops withering in a field at Kattumannarkoil.

Vice-president of the Cauvery Delta Farmers’ Association K.V. Kannan told The Hindu that it was impossible to find labourers to harvest ripe paddy crop. Harvesting ought to be done within the next 10 days and it would require either 10,000 labourers or 700 harvest machines.

But, it was a tall order to mobilise such a massive workforce and harvest machines in such as short a period. Mr Kannan pointed out that paddy crops on three lakh acres in the tail end delta region, including Chidambaram, Kattumannarkoil and Bhuvanagiri, attained maturity at the same time because of direct sowing and transplantation practices.

In such a situation there was hardly any scope for spacing out the harvest. Mr Kannan noted that in earlier days, village artisans, including carpenters and ironsmiths, would join farm hands in harvesting paddy. Then they were paid in kind at the rate of seven ‘marakkal’ (a measure) for every man and five ‘marakkal’ for every woman for a day’s work.

Those days, paddy was precious for labourers who used to store grain at their house with utmost care. But, in the past 10 years, when distribution of either subsidised or free rice through Public Distribution System had come into vogue, paddy seemed to have lost its value.

President of Kollidam-Keelanai Paasanana Vivasayigal Sangam P.Vinayagamoorthy, who vouched for such a disturbing trend, said that labourers were being attracted to Tirupur, Chennai and other urban areas for taking up jobs other than agriculture or allied activities. Therefore, labour shortage had begun to put tremendous pressure on farmers and forced them to find recourse to harvest machines. But, on this score too, there was an unbridgeable demand-supply gap.

Mr Vinayagamoorthy said that there were two types of harvest machines - track-chain type that could function with ease even in wet fields, and wheel type that could be comfortable only in dry farms. Agricultural Engineering Department in Cuddalore could boast of having only two such machines (one in each category) but even these too were either sent elsewhere or under disrepair.

Mr Kannan noted that as against the requirement of 700 harvest machines, only about 300 (both government and private-owned machines put together) were available in the district. Therefore, Mr. Kannan and Mr. Vinayagamoorthy said that since paddy harvest did not brook any delay, authorities should mobilise as many harvest machines as possible to help the farmers.



Good rains to usher in record paddy harvest in Chhattisgarh

The prediction of good monsoon in Chhattisgarh has powered the authorities to set a new record of paddy production in the state also known as rice-bowl of the country.

The mineral-rich state will produce 7.5 million tonnes of rice in the kharif season 2013 that will be a new record. The officials in the agriculture directorate though initially faltered while setting the target are now confident with the monsoon prediction for the state.

"The weather department had forecasted that the monsoon this year would be good that would help us to achieve the target set for the kharif 2013," Deputy Director in the Agriculture Directorate R K Chandravanshi said. The onset of monsoon in the state had also given a big respite.

The average rainfall of the state is 1327.1 millimeter (mm). As on June 20, the state had already received more than 200 mm-about 17 per cent of the total rains in the first fortnight of the season.

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All set for paddy harvest in Kuttanad

The harvest of the ‘puncha crop’ in Kuttanad will begin from March 1 and all arrangements have been made for a hassle-free harvest this year.

A meeting attended by the Agriculture Minister K. P. Mohanan here on Friday reviewed the arrangements. The availability of combine harvester machines has been a problem for the last few years, but this year the Kerala Agro Industries Corporation (KAIC) authorities say out of the 169 such harvesters purchased by them under the Kuttanad package, 158 were functioning. The lending rates of the harvesters has been another problem over the years. The harvesters of KAIC will be pressed into service at the rate of less than Rs 1,000 per hour.

The private owners of combine harvesters had demanded Rs. 1,600 per hour. However, the Collector has fixed the rate at Rs. 1.350 per hour.

The meeting also decided to form a committee comprising the local MLA and the respective agriculture officer of the area to resolve the issues including the non-availability of harvester.

This year, a total of 24,623 hectares of paddy field has been exposed to puncha cultivation.

Of these, a total of 5,812 hectares will go under the harvester from March 1 to 15. A total of 1,471 hectares of paddy fields in reclaimed lakes will be the next to be harvested from March 11.

The paddy fields of upper Kuttanad will be harvested from April to May. So far only 13 private rice mills have come forward to procure the paddy.

Last year, 44 rice mills had come forward for procurement. More rice mill owners are expected to cooperate with the procurement process soon.

Though the pest attacks had affected paddy in the early stages of cultivation this time, timely intervention and advice by the Kerala Centre for Management, Mankombu seemed to have saved the day for the farmers.

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