Pathanamthitta: Now you can get branded ‘Aranmula rice’ like ‘Aranmula Kannady’ (Aranmula mirror). The farmers of Aranmula have harvested the paddy cultivated in the land proposed for the controversial Aranmula airport. The harvest festival in over 250 acres of land was inaugurated by Agriculture Minister V.S. Sunil Kumar on Monday. The land in the ecologically fragile western ghats area was earlier acquired for constructing a private airport which was dropped following protests from various quarters, including the Aranmula heritage village protection action council formed by the local residents. The LDF government cultivated paddy in the area which was once part of Aranmula paddy fields.
Mr. Sunilkumar, who spoke, said, “the government is not against development, but it will not allow anything that harms the heritage of the land. The total area of paddy cultivation in the state has come down to a mere 1.98 lakh hectares against 10 lakh hectares earlier. ” “The domestic production of rice is 5.9 lakh metric tonnes while the current demand is 40 lakh metric tonnes. To boost paddy cultivation, the government will recover farm land in the hands of private firms and the land unsuitable for agriculture will be distributed among the landless,” he said.
The paddy will be processed to make rice in farms owned by the agriculture department to market it under the ‘Aranmula rice brand.’ The LDF government had started paddy cultivation in nearly 15,000 hectares after it assumed power and also plans to rejuvenate another 90,000 hectares in the next three years. The area of paddy cultivation will be increased to three lakh hectares to produce 10 lakh metric tonnes in five years, the minister added. PWD Minister G. Sudhakaran unveiled the logo of ‘Aranmula rice’ at the function presided over by MLA Veena George.