As a part of observance of family agricultural program 2014 a seminar was conducted in school on the subject of Paradigm Shift in Paddy Cultivation Pattern. Pursuant to which we could know that farmers were fast deserting paddy cropping for cash crops like Rubber etc. our endeavor to make sense of this unwelcome crop swap led to the genesis of this project.
Paddy constitutes the staple food of majority of Indian populace. To ensure the un-dwindled production of this vital produce it is necessary to decipher how climate and atmospheric profile are impacting it. Agriculture is the pivot around which the entire economy revolves. So its unhindered wheeling alone promotes nation’s food security quotient and the basic common weal at large. Palakkad dubbed as the rice bowl of Kerala from the hoary past nowadays seems to renege on its cropping DNA and hurtle towards acquiring a lamentable complete paddy void region status. But we cannot watch this precipitous fall nonchalantly. We need to preempt this tragedy post haste. Climatic change, paucity of farm labor, non-starter mechanized farming practices could collectively or severally be held responsible for the tragedy waiting to happen. A diagnosis with clinical precision is the need of the hour. So our project institutes an investigation in to the morbidity of the situation and to factor in every available database to sift through before coming up with a solid report.
We selected different regions of Alathur Taluk which happens to be a veritable paddy cultivation hub of the district for our rigorous study. We conducted a survey among hundred paddy cultivators using a questionnaire which contained 25 very probing questions. In the second phase a supplementary questionnaire having just ten questions too was used to source any undelivered and residual items of information from the core segment of the said seasoned farming community. Besides the tillsters many agricultural scientists too chipped in with their valuable clues at the several sessions of close interface we had with them. Checking out the rain gauge in the area at regular intervals, measuring out humidity levels by means of ant dry, pressing a sundial to use to understand solar heat levels etc were some of the technology aided studies of atmospheric condition of the area under study. The more demanding endeavor was the actual tilling that we undertook using mutually different farming practices. Here we zeroed in on the precise enumeration of weeds and pest affliction patterns that were specific to different cultivation methods. Unpredictable diurnal temperature fluctuations throw the time related farming practices out of gear. Humidity, rainfall, atmospheric heat etc sometimes turn paddy hostile. Heat spike in the atmosphere leads to paddy fruition pre-term. This reduced crop maturity span curtails yield in the wake of scaled down pollination.
Unstable atmospheric temperature, high humidity levels and intermittent precipitation cause speedy weed growth and uncontrolled pest proliferation. A mind boggling 2000000 weeds sprout in two spells in one hector of land per crop season. According to the crop record labeled “ Susthira maintained by Alathur Block Agricultural Dept the PD 1:4 rates of pests is less than the MTL but leaving little solace weed growth has registered 30% growth. Excessive fuel use and massive deforestation have inordinately enlarged the carbon foot-print (Project Parivarthanam 2012-2013). Irresponsible use of chemical fertilizers has eroded the fertility of the soil and the bio-diversity well being. Increase in relative humidity, heat level , chemical manure use etc have devastating reflection on farm productivity. Farm hands being in absolute short supply and erosion of social standing of paddy farmers are the twin perils of this sector. Government turns Nelson’s eye towards their sorry lot. Ends meeting and a slightly ambitious aim of making elusive profit require the traditional paddy cultivators to root for alternative crops. If the present pattern of crop choice shift sustains 2050 will definitely witness a food famine unprecedented in scale our study prognosticates.
Capricious precipitation , much parched summers, scant profit making are some of the prominent reasons why farmers veer towards cash crops by abandoning paddy altogether. Man power to run the farms is scarce to come by and so are farm machines. The fall out is the intractable shrinking of acreage under paddy. Road front farms are fast becoming vast construction sites. When they exhaust the construction mafia eyes deeper farming territory. These happenings are nobody’s bother in palakkad now. Use of toxic manures has proven to be multiple disfigurement causing and even carcinogenic. The visitations of natural calamities have become so frequent that palakkad has acquired the unenviable status of a national disaster hot spot.
Opening more regional weather forecasting facilities, keeping in place a timely awareness dispensing arrangement that will make the farmers use tailor made farming practices that will go with the changes in diurnal heat levels and climate in general are some of the suggested remedial measures. Bringing out a regional crop calendar, making available seeds of customized fruition span are some another well considered solutions. Amending crop insurance laws, conservation of rain water and energy resources, implementation of larger mechanized cultivation, resorting to bio farming methods as far as possible, providing farmers with advanced information regarding weeds and pests, undertaking large scale tree saplings planting, implementing the tenets of ‘jai jawan jai kissan ’ideal are solutions further suggested.
As a followup of the project work a notice called karshakamithram was distributed among the farmers. Paper cuttings were collected and a consolidated version of which was put up for exhibition. An awareness class was held to make the farmers know about the practices related to bio farming. A seminar was conducted in school which dealt with various ancient farming practices. The project is all set to be presented in a meeting of farmers to be held under the aegis of Krishi Bhavan.