ALAPPUZHA: R. Block , the remotest Kayal kand in Kuttanad, will soon witness cultivation of crops after almost a decade. The 1,450-acre Kayal land has remained barren since 2013 due to the failure of dewatering facilities.
The government has now made available new dewatering system by setting up at least 12 vertical axial pumps, and 17 farmers, who own the R. Block Kayal lands, have agreed to cultivate crops, including sugarcane, coco, tapioca, vanilla, plantain, coconuts, grambu (clove) and pepper.
Latha G. Panicker, principal agriculture officer, said that Agriculture Minister V.S. Sunilkumar will visit R. Block on Sunday to review the work in progress.
The concept of two-crop system was launched under the landmark Holland Project in R. Block in 1961 for the first time in the state. As part of the project, the Kayal land was protected by constructing outer bunds and 21 pump sets were set up.
The land owners abandoned farming after the government refused to maintain the pump sets in 1970 when the farmers switched from paddy cultivation to more profitable cash crops. At that time R. Block was one of the most income generating Kayal lands in Kuttanad. There were over 50,000 toddy tappers who produced lakhs of litres of toddy every day. But, with the collapse of the dewatering mechanism, the farmers suffered huge losses.
Now, the pump sets have been bought under the central sector project ‘Rashtriya Krishi Vikas Yojana (RKVY)’ announc-ed in 2013. As per the project, `6.5 crore was set ap-art to strengthen the outer bunds and `8.42 crore to revamp pump sets.
K.P. Achuthanandan, 48, of Pattassery chira in R. Block, said the new pump sets will be able to address the perennial flooding problem. If there is proper dewatering system, cultivation can be made easier and profitable. In the past, the pump sets got damaged due to lack of maintenance, he added.
A.D. Kunjachan, vice-president, state committee, Kerala State Karshaka Thozhilali Union (KSKTU) and a local resident, said that the land owners had earlier objected to the government’s attempt to divide R. Block into eight sections as part of the revival project. Now, it has asked the land owners to return to farming. “Hopefully the R. Block could bring back its golden days with the introduction of crops,” he added....