With a view to provide aid to paddy farmers in Kerela, Chief Minister Oommen Chandy has assured that the existing system of paddy procurement will not be discontinued.
Launching the harvest of the puncha crop at the Chithira Lake paddy fields in Kainakary on Sunday, Mr. Chandy said that an allocation of Rs. 300 crore has been made in the State budget for paddy procurement that was being undertaken at a rate of Rs. 19 per kg.
“While the Centre provided Rs. 13.60 per kg for paddy procured, the remaining amount was disbursed by the State government as subsidy. The burden borne by the State accounted for Rs. 300 crore annually. Considering its financial limitations, the government could not afford to extend the subsidy any further. However, the Central government has been requested to hike the price being provided for paddy,” he said.
Mr. Chandy added that the promotion of neera production has worked wonders for the coconut sector of the State. According to him, every coconut tree has been bringing huge returns of up to Rs. 3,000 per month for the farmers. Such initiatives are expected to transform agriculture into viable sources of income for the farming community, he said.
He also called for reviving paddy cultivation in the adjacent Rani Lake fields during the current year. The Chief Minister also directed the district administration to pursue options in introducing a collective model of farming in the Chithira fields. The technique, if found successful, could become a model to emulate for the other parts of the State, he said.
Presiding over the function, Agriculture Minister K.P. Mohanan directed the District Collector to convene a meeting to assess the ongoing harvest activities. Speaking on the occasion,
District Collector N. Padmakumar said that the Supplyco will undertake the procurement of paddy harvested from the Chithira fields. The government agency had refused to procure paddy initially. Around 600-700 metric tonne of paddy was expected from the nearly 100 hectares of cultivated field.