Saturday, June 9, 2012

Kuttanad farming to get global recognition

Kuttanad farming to get global recognition By the time south-west monsoon loosens its grip over Kerala this time, Kuttanad could well become world-renowned as a Globally Important Agricultural Heritage System (GIAHS) location. This recognition from the Food and Agricultural Organisation will come Kuttanad’s way some eight decades after Joseph Murickan alias ‘Kayal Rajavu’ successfully drained out 2,000 acres of kayal (backwaters) and used mud bunds to create artificial paddy fields and harvest a bumper crop. Kuttanad will become the second such system in the country after Koraput in Odisha which was granted the GIAHS status in 2011 to preserve the high genetic quality aus ecotype of rice (Oryza Sativa) cultivated by tribal farmers. With the FAO certification comes an assistance of $30,000. The GIAHS certification is expected to go a long way in helping the farmers in Kerala to continue the ancient farming technology, thus pitching its bit for food safety in the country. The MSSRF submitted the project to the FAO with the help of Kottayam Nature Society and the State Government. Speaking to Express, M S Swaminathan Research Foundation (MSSRF) Bio Diversity Project Director and Kerala Centre Director N Anil Kumar said his organisation along with the State Government was in the final stages of certifying the Kuttanad model as a GIAHS. “Towards this, the MSSRF is preparing a master plan to revitalise the Kuttanad farming system under the label Revitalisation of Kuttanad Heritage Agricultural Zone. We expect the FAO director- general to visit Kuttanad to declare the GIAHS status in September,” he said. Kuttanad Vikasana Samithi executive director Fr Thomas Peelianickal agreed that the initiative could help sort out some of the anomalies in the Kuttanad package. “The package is deviating from what was originally envisaged. It is imperative that once the GIAHS title is conferred, only mud be used for the construction of bunds as done by Murickan in the 1930s,” Fr Thomas said. State Agriculture Secretary K R Jyothilal told Express: “After the recognition by the FAO, we expect technical and financial support from them for revitalising the Kuttanad model of paddy cultivation.” The new Indian Express 07 june 2012 By Biju E Paul - ALAPPUZHA(KERALA)

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