ALAPPUZHA: The International Research and Training Centre for Below Sea-level Farming set up at Thottapally in February this year to enhance the sustainable food security in the state is reeling under shortage of hands and funds.
Dr K.G. Padmakumar, institute director, said that it was being run by only five staff members in place of the required 15. “It has not been allocated any fund this year though the former government had agreed to provide Rs 5 crore as annual fund. We had a discussion with the finance minister the other day for its funding,” Dr Kumar said.
The research centre was established in the wake of the proposal submitted by the M.S. Swaminathan Research Foundation (MSSRF) after Kuttanad was declared as a Globally Important Agricultural Heritage Zone (GIAHZ) by the Food and Agricultural Organisation of the United Nations in 2013.
The centre aims at rejuvenation of the earlier system of farming based on both flood control and salinity management and sharing the unique knowledge system with other countries. “The institute is currently running in a rented house at Thottapally here. The infrastructure is being set up with the Rs 1 crore allocated by the government last year. We presently carry out research activities with the ‘external’ funds provided by the MSSRF,” said the director.
“The institute has already initiated a project to distribute special app-based waterproof cell phones developed by Indian National Centre for Ocean Information Services (INCOIS), Hyderabad, to the fishermen. As many as 45 fishermen have been equipped with such smart phones and the project will be extended to other fishermen as per the availability of funds. Environmental surveillance programmes to combat sea incursion and flood situation have also been launched,” Dr Padmakumar added.
The Below Sea-Level Farming in Kuttanad is a unique method which the UN recognized as globally important. The preservation of bio-diversity, fish wealth, water sources, intrusion of saline water in pure water, flood and other matters will also come under the research, he said. The centre was inaugurated by former chief minister Oommen Chandy on February 6....