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Nov 15, 2012 at 09:45am IST

Kerala women farmers battling all odds to save green paddy fields

Malappuram (Kerala): Women farmers in Malappuram are battling against all odds to save their land. In God's own country, shocking reports have come to light on the green paddy fields, which are one of the attractions in the state - the 9 lakh hectares of the 1970s has now shrunk to just 2.3 lakh hectares. But the women farmers are now battling the odds to save what is left.

The Krishi Vigyan Kendra in the district had organised these women into self help groups three years ago and turned them into skilled, mechanized farmers. The move was mainly prompted by scarcity and high cost of labour. And the plan is now paying off. There has been Rs 12000 per acre fall in total expenditure.

S Sajeena, Assistant Professor, Krishi Vigyan Kendra, Malappuram, says, “We chose women over men for this project because we realised that it will be a means to empower them. They are earning a steady income now which we are sure will be used for the welfare of the whole family.”

Dr S Prabhu Kumar, Zonar Project Director, Indian Council for Agricultural Research, says, “Slowly we are going to implement this approach all over India, where labour is a big problem. It has created a good impact not only in this district but in the state of Kerala.”

Demand for these skilled women is high. Many farmers who had turned away from paddy cultivation are now returning to it. Fallow land is being cultivated again with the help of these women, they do everything from transplanting to weeding with their machines.

Pushpa, a woman farmer, says, “Earlier, we used to strain ourselves physically as we had to bend and stand for a long time while farming. This process is not only easy but also enables us to cover a large area in a short time.” They have even been given vocational training so that they can maintain and do basic repairs on their machines.

Few years ago, these indigenous machines were lying idle due to lack of skilled force. But now these women through mechanised farming have managed to bring back over 1200 hectares of land to paddy cultivation in a single year, a model waiting to be emulated by the entire state.

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