Thanks to back-to-back floods last year, Kottayam is on track to reap a windfall of over 300 crores from paddy cultivation this season.
As per the estimate of the Paddy Marketing Office of Supplyco, the authorities have procured about 1,09,136.18 tonnes of paddy from Kottayam so far this season at 25.30 a kg. They have paid about 117 crores to the farmers while a balanced amount of 158 crores is slated to be distributed in the next stage.
“Since paddy has to be procured from about 240 hectares, the total amount to be distributed this season will touch ?300-crore mark,” said a Supplyco official.
During the season, farmers in Kottayam had taken up farming in about 16,793 hectares, spread across 450 clusters of paddy fields. The agency has approved a list of 21,415 farmers for procurement, being carried out through 37 rice millers, including 27 from Ernakulam and two from Palakkad.
Meanwhile, the initial cheer of a bumper crop was dampened by a slow start in the procurement process and concerns over adequate storage space in godowns. With the arrivals picking up in the latter half, the procurement agencies witnessed an influx and caused a slow movement of the harvested crop, forcing the farmers to store the crop in the open for several days.
“The overall production is about 30% higher compared to the last two seasons, forcing us to arrange for more storage facilities to procure the excess rice before the summer rains,” said a top official.
During the season, the yield per acre across the region shot up by an average of five to eight quintals.
Experts attribute the rise in production to a combination of factors ranging from sedimentation due to the floods to washout of the early crop.
While the gush of flood water brought down soil acidity, the fields remained submerged for several weeks, enabling the farmers to follow the crop calendar.
At the same time, the instances of pest and diseases were also relatively less during the period, noted a scientist with the Rice Research Station, Mankombu.