Kerla state farmerAccording to the latest reports, it has been stated that it was once the rice bowl of the High Ranges, spreading over a thousand acres from Vellayamkudy to Kattappana town, however, in 2013, the last Padasekhara Samithy abandoned paddy cultivation in the fields, citing shortage of labour, losses suffered in continuous years and due to lack of support from the state government. As it has been indicated that these days Tapioca, plantain and other crops, including pepper and cardamom, are cultivated in Valiyakandam paddy fields now. A large number of residential houses have also come up on land sold by farmers.

Further, in this regard, Pappachan Karottukunnel, president of the last Padasekhara Samithy, informed that earlier two crops were taken up annually. Later, one crop was avoided due to shortage of water and dearth of labourers. It was also told that even that was also abandoned as labourers from Tamil Nadu who came in groups to sow the seeds, clear the weeds and harvest the crops slowly drifted away. Finally, as a last-ditch effort, the Padasekhara Samithy members jointly purchased a tiller. Once when it needed repairs, it had to be taken to Perumbavoor as no mechanic in any nearby areas could do it. But it was not repaired in time, jeopardising harvest, as it was narrated.

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Furthermore, the samithy went from pillar to post seeking support to get the paddy field irrigated from a nearby perennial stream and that too fell on deaf years. The only help from the government was the allocation of some fertilizers, he added. Had there been timely help, the samithy would not have abandoned paddy cultivation, as told by Mr. Pappachan, who has taken up plantain cultivation in one-and-a-half acres of Valiyakandam paddy field, leaving his remaining land fallow. In one of the statements, Mr Siby, a member of the samithy, informed that now Valiyakandam had no more paddy fields left. The farmers who shifted to plantain cultivation too suffered heavy losses. They had to sell banana at Rs.17 a kg when the prices was around Rs.40 a kg. Now the paddy field was not only a death knell for paddy cultivation but also for crops congenial to paddy cultivation in future.

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