When The Price Of Rice Increases And Rice Cultivation Ceases In Kerala: Through ordinances and amendments, this government is destroying existing laws like the Land Reforms Act, Panchayati Raj Act, and Paddy-Wetlands Protection Act, which we have been calling progressive for decades. Or loopholes are put in place to give those with money a way to bypass it.
The price of rice is increasing day by day. Low availability from neighboring states is the main reason for the increase in prices. In two months, the prices of all varieties have increased by more than Rs.10 on average.
The prices of Jaya and Jyoti, which are used by more people, are rising sharply. Uma, Surekha, Sonamasuri, and Kranti also increased by Rs.10. The price increase of Unda and Matta varieties is Rs 6 per kg
See, in our state since 2008, decisions and laws have been passed to expand rice cultivation and protect paddy fields. The LDF government under the leadership of V.S. has set a high procurement price for rice as part of their party’s declared position and continues to this day.
Now they go to Karshan’s house/farm and procure paddy for supply at above Rs.29. The Paddy Wetlands Conservation Act of 2008 was also a revolutionary piece of legislation to protect the remaining paddy fields and watersheds for food, drinking water, and labor.
Now let’s check the situation of rice price increase like this.
Due to climate change, in other states, where the rainfall required for rice cultivation has decreased, the irrigation systems have decreased and the farmers have shifted to other crops. Due to the same climate change, crop damage and pest infestation have also increased due to untimely rains, etc.
In Kerala, the state government was not storing paddy due to the prohibition of monopoly procurement in other states. But states like Tamil Nadu and Jharkhand have started monopoly procurement of paddy.
Another reason is the non-availability and rising prices of fertilizers like urea and potash. Factomphos is an important additive in rice cultivation for rice production. The central government has increased the price of this fertilizer by Rs 1,200 per bag in the last eight years. 300 to 1500. A fivefold increase. Potash was also increased from Rs 250 to Rs 1750.
There has also been an increase in the prices of tractors, tillers, harvesters, etc. due to the increase in the price of petroleum products. the price of rice was also included in GST.
Banks in other states took it upon themselves to discourage farmers from paddy cultivation. The credit conditions for giving loans to paddy cultivation have been tightened. The central government does not interfere in this.
In Andhra, the cultivation of Jaya has decreased by 40 percent this year. That is what caused the price hike. As the government has started stockpiling paddy there, farmers have shifted to cultivating government-specified varieties.
Due to the war in Ukraine, which is the meditation chamber of Europe, agriculture has decreased significantly and today India exports wheat and rice to European countries.
If the things mentioned above are national and international problems for the decline in rice cultivation, the reasons for the decline in rice cultivation and fields in Kerala are also state and political reasons. The LDF government, which came to power in 2016, has been filled with mafias In 2018, the ‘Paddy Wetlands Protection Act, 2008’ was amended.
Bridges were built over the paddy fields. Developed countries are doing construction and road development without destroying even an inch of paddy field. Any country like America, Holland, Japan, etc. is developing only by protecting fields and water bodies.
Those who visit there and say that they will follow the Dutch method as an example, have passed several anti-people bills in several legislative sessions in 6-7 years. Many laws are repealed by Ordinances and made into Bills. The ‘Investment Friendly Bill’ introduced and passed by this government is totally anti-democratic
(Part of it: If an initiative can be started in the country, the approval of the panchayat governing body elected by the people is not required, instead the approval of the panchayat secretary is sufficient, and many anti-people amendments such as the demolition of the Panchayati Raj Act).
All this is being done by a government that claims to be left-wing. The Paddy-Wetland Conservation (Amendment) Bill, 2018 is intended to legalize past illegal paddy fillings and provide guidance on how to fill and destroy remaining paddy fields.
No panchayat in Kerala has scientifically completed and notified the data bank. As per the new Ordinance, the Databank can fill any field not notified.
These bills are drastically subverting the democratic system for the selfish interests of the big people and making the basic needs of the common people difficult.
Through ordinances and amendments, this government is destroying existing laws like the Land Reforms Act, the Panchayati Raj Act, and the Paddy-Wetlands Protection Act, which we have been calling progress for decades. Or loopholes are put in place to give those with money a way to bypass it.
The agriculture department estimates that six lakh hectares of fields have disappeared in the state in 30 years.
Figures in 2018 indicate that the paddy area in the state has declined by 13 percent over the previous year, despite the introduction of the Tharish-free Kerala project and more people entering the agricultural sector.
The Planning Board points out that there is a 21 percent shortfall in paddy production. With the summer heat and drinking water shortage becoming more severe than last year, rice production is headed for a big crisis.
The report also states that these areas have been taken over by cash crops as the paddy fields have disappeared. The agriculture department estimates that 46.32 hectares of fields are lost every day. Paddy fields are disappearing more in urbanized districts. As per 2014-15 estimates, paddy cultivation is now 2,04,000 hectares.
Palakkad, also known as Nellara, lost the most fields. During this time, 63,000 hectares of fields have disappeared here. 52,000 hectares in Alappuzha and 50,100 hectares in Thrissur are uncultivable.
Until 2012-13, Thiruvananthapuram-37 percent, Kollam-58.49, Pathanamthitta-23.64, Alappuzha-2.33, Idukki-35.34, Ernakulam-56.29, Palakkad-9.49, Malappuram-25.42, Wayanad-7.45, and Kasargod-15.45 percent of paddy fields disappeared in the state. Along with this, paddy production has also decreased significantly.
In 1970-71, 12.8 lakh tonnes of rice were produced in the state. But in 2014-15 it decreased to 5.8 lakh tonnes. Paddy cultivation ranks third behind rubber and coconut.
Wetlands and other water sources are being encroached on a large scale, but the local governments are not doing enough to stop it. The consolidated report prepared by the audit department also shows that there is a serious failure in preventing misappropriation and misappropriation.
The Kerala Paddy Wetlands Protection Act stipulates six months imprisonment and a fine of Rs 50,000 for those who fill fields and wetlands. Panchayat presidents can directly intervene to prevent landfilling by asking the owner in writing to cultivate the fallow field. But none of this is happening.
Kerala Paddy Wetlands Conservation Act has been reviewed and the land reclassification process has been speeded up. It was during the last term of the government that the provisions of land reclassification were eased by adding water to the law. Using this loophole, a huge number of land reclassification applications are flowing into government offices.
A total of 1,12,539 applications have arrived for processing in various RDO offices in the state. The amendment in the rules and the government’s order allowing reclassification of unnotified land of 25 cents area free of charge has favored the land mafia.
The government is emphasizing on a fast-track process to dispose of declassification applications. The Revenue Department has clarified that it will soon publish standard operating procedures for handling applications. Massive corruption is taking place in most places under the guise of land reclassification.
There are allegations that some revenue-agriculture officers and panchayats are acting out of line. The amendments to the rules provide a loophole to declassify the data bank.
There is no legal impediment to filling up paddy fields that are not included in the data bank. Government systems are generally favorable to land reclassification, so even wetlands are subject to reclassification. Since the government’s position is in favor of the land mafia, only a few officials give reports against the declassification to the RDOK.
The government claims that because the applications are online, the work of middlemen has been eliminated. However, with the relaxation of rules, land can be easily declassified without hindrance everywhere.
According to the 18th Amendment to the Paddy Wetlands Protection Act, the money collected under the land reclassification process should be transferred to the ‘Agricultural Development Fund and utilized to help agriculture and paddy farmers. But the Agricultural Prosperity Account proposed by the 2018 Act came into force in July 2022.
Then, out of the 5 crore rupees transferred into this account, one and a half crore revenue was used to hire employees and so on. Farmers did not get any money from this.
This neglect comes after nearly Rs 700 crores were diverted to the Agricultural Development Fund. The relief amount applied for through the AIMS portal has not yet been disbursed to those who suffered crop damage due to wind and floods last year. At the same time, the process of restoring the paddy fields has been stalled for years.
When the field is unscientifically filled, the drains that carry water from the fields to the fields are also filled. This makes it difficult to cultivate the rest of the fields. Farmers withdraw from rice cultivation.
In effect, the very people who earlier legislated to protect rice farming and democratize land use are destroying rice fields and rice cultivation to maintain their power, protect monopolies, and other selfish and economic interests, undermining our food, drinking water, and job security.