THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: The state government has been trying hard to push the declining paddy cultivation by allocating huge funds and proposing innovative projects in the last two budgets, but these initiatives have not made much of a positive change in the sector.
The latest land use pattern released by the planning board show that the net sown area in the state declined by 1.5% in the past two years. The rice cultivated area decreased by 5,027 hectares in these years while there has been an increase of 5,727 hectares in the area of fallow land.
Of the total geographical area of 38.86 lakh hectares, the net sown area now stands at 53% while the total food grain production reached 0.6 lakh tonnes last year. Essential food crops like rice, pulses and tapioca occupy just 10.8% of the total gross cropped area of 26.6 lakh hectares.
"It is a matter of concern that the area of paddy fields is decreasing year after year. The paddy fields, in the low lands, have a greater environmental role to play in conserving water and rejuvenating ground water resources. The increase in fallow land would invariably increase the possibility of reclamation of paddy fields in the coming years," warns environmentalist M K Prasad.
He says many projects like rice bio parks still remain on paper as officials are not pushing for the implementation of the project in an effective manner. "The state should take a few lessons from Tamil Nadu, which is doing a marvellous job in running effective rice-parks," he says.
Finance minister K M Mani has, in this year's budget, made a huge allocation for agriculture sector and set aside Rs 200 crore for various projects. Last year, Mani had introduced concepts like rice-parks and high tech agriculture to increase productivity.
"The main advantages of high-tech farming are capacity to overcome climate change, increased productivity and improved quality. We have also introduced concepts like high-tech farming and micro irrigation, capable of controlled and effective utilization of water, green house farming techniques with minimal dependency on soil and usage of advanced hybrid seeds," a senior official said.
On the positive side, the production of rice has increased by 281 kg/hectare in the past two years. "This is due to better usage of mechanised technology. But more needs to be done to encourage farmers to sow paddy and not let the paddy fields become just fallow lands," said a senior official with agriculture department.
"Kerala is facing a serious challenge in maintaining the meagre agriculture area. The state's agriculture economy is undergoing structural transformation from mid-seventies and over a large proportion of its traditional crop area which was devoted to subsistence crops like rice and tapioca to more remunerative crops like banana and plantation crops," the state planning board had said.
Courtesy : http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/thiruvananthapuram/Funds-fail-to...