After the State government declared a lockdown and the district administration imposed Section 144 of the Code of Criminal Procedure to check the spread of COVID-19, farmers in Kuttanad were a worried lot.
A high-level meeting attended by Public Works Minister G. Sudhakaran, Food and Civil Supplies Minister P. Thilothaman and Agriculture Minister V.S. Sunil Kumar here on Thursday decided to complete the harvest and procurement in a time-bound manner.
Shortage of trucks
Mr. Sudhakaran said 300 combine harvesters were available and operators had agreed to continue harvest without any disruption. He said any shortage of trucks and drivers would be addressed by the respective district administrations of Alappuzha, Pathanamthitta and Kottayam.
Mr. Thilothaman said the harvesting was completed in half of the paddy fields in Kuttanad. “The mill owners have agreed to procure the harvested paddy. The procurement will come into full swing in Kuttanad soon,” the Minister said. Agriculture Minister V.S. Sunil Kumar said that 80% of the paddy would be procured by April and the procurement would be completed by May 15. In the wake of COVID-19, the meeting decided to formulate a special health protocol for loading and unloading workers, truck drivers and operators of combine harvesters.
Staff Reporter writes from Kottayam:
Taking note of the impact of a countrywide lockdown on the procurement of paddy in the north Kuttanad region, a meeting convened by Food and Civil Supplies Minister P. Thilothaman here on Thursday decided to resume the procurement process while adhering to the legal restrictions in place.
The meeting, attended by Kottayam District Collector P.K. Sudheeer Babu, principal agricultural officer (PAO) Salomi Thomas and district paddy marketing officer Jijimol P. Kurian, decided to complete the harvesting operations in the remaining paddy fields in a time-bound manner.
As per estimates, around 8,407 tonnes of paddy has been harvested from 59 polders across 15 panchayats in the district.