Harvest season set to begin in Kottayam
Amidst concerns over fleecing of paddy farmers by harvester machine agents, harvesting of the ‘virippu’ crop in over 4,653.13 ha across Kottayam is slated to begin next week.
District Collector P.K. Jayasree convened a meeting of farmer collectives and officials of the Agriculture Department to review the preparations for the season. The meeting also discussed the issues raised by farmers’ representatives regarding the exorbitant rates charged by private harvester operators.
In view of the complaints, the Collector is slated to convene another round of meeting on Monday to fix the tariff of the machines in a uniform manner. She also directed the Agriculture Department to initiate advance steps to address the issues involved in completing the harvest in a time-bound manner.
Beena George, Principal Agriculture Officer, said as many as 20 machines were available with the authorities for the current harvest season. The actual requirement for the season, however, was around 60 machines per day.
“We will need at least eight machines at the beginning of the harvest. Steps have been taken to source machines from the private sector to meet the peak season requirement,” she said.
Farmers, however, said at least 100 machines would be required to complete the harvest in a time-bound manner. “While the government has fixed a rate of ₹1,850 per hour for its machine as against ₹2,000 by the private operators, the farmers are required to transport these machines on their own, which in turn, offsets the cost advantage in hiring government-owned machines,” said Aby Ipe, district general secretary of the Karshaka Congress.
Meanwhile, farmers also pointed out that about 30 harvester machines under the government-owned Kerala Agro Industries Corporation Ltd. (KAIC) were lying idle due to lack of maintenance.