Paddy acreage looks up in Kerala on govt measures

Written by Sajan C Kumar | Chennai | Updated: Mar 15 2010, 07:14am hrs
After a long period of continuous decline, the area under paddy cultivation in Kerala has increased from 2.29 lakh hectares in 2007-08 to 2.34 lakh hectares in 2008-09 thanks to the state governments initiatives like food security, Kudumbashree and Malabar Package projects.

The latest economic survey, brought out by the state planning board, has called for a state-level project for promotion of rice production by linking the schemes of department of agriculture, local governments and Kudumbashree.

It pointed out that action plans based on paddy field need to be prepared by linking them with credit, input support, water management, procurement and supplementary income sources. Besides, panchayat-wise targets could be fixed in potential areas for convergence.

The project, which might cover total insurance and total procurement, could also integrate development of local water resources and lift irrigation schemes, said the survey.

With a view to enhancing food production in the state, a major food security project was launched in 2008-09 covering rice, milk and egg.

As part of the project, regional sub-projects were launched with additional incentives, interest-free loans, project-based support for fallow land cultivation and a package of support measures.

The procurement price was also enhanced to Rs 12 per kg. Separate targets were fixed for each commodity and the local bodies also were given a target of 10,000 acres to be brought under paddy during 2008-09.

Pointing out achievements in paddy production, the economic review said, A perceptible improvement in the area and production was visible in rice cultivation in the state.

Though there has been decline in paddy cultivation in the last few years, the pattern appears to have reversed in the current year.

The average annual decline in area under rice during the 8th Five-Year Plan was around 22,000 hectares, whereas it has come down to an average of 13,000 hectares in the 9th Plan period. The average annual reduction in area during the 10th Plan was 9,398 hectares.

In 2007-08, decline in area was to the tune of 34,591 hectares, from 2.64 lakh hectares in 2006-07 to 2.29 lakh hectares. As a result of this, rice production declined from 6.42 lakh tonne to 5.28 lakh tonne, and then increased to 5.89 lakh tonne in 2008-09, a rise of 11.74% over the previous year.

The area under rice increased to 2.34 lakh hectares in 2008-09 from 2.31 hectares in 2007-08.

The maximum increase in productivity during the year to the tune of 63% was recorded in Alappuzha district.

According to the state planning board statistics, out of a total geographical area of 38.86 lakh hectares, net sown area is about 54%. The net sown area has increased by 1.31% while the total cropped area has declined by 2.14%. Land under non-agricultural uses in the state has risen from around 9.10% in 1999-2000 to 11.63% in 2008-09, a fact that points towards the growing urbanisation.