Paddy cultivation has become a topic of discussion for many in Kerala. Thanks to Monteh Singh Ahluvalia. His statement that Kerala should not lock paddy farmers created an up roar in the state. Starting from politicians to a school going child ,one of the main talk is about wetland and paddy lands!
Why this uproar? is it genuine or not?
The answer for this question came from sri Mullakkra Ratnakaran , previous agriculture minister of Kerala. He was attending a meeting organised by Kerala Paristhithi Aikyavedi on ‘ Is the current Planning commision a threat to India’s food security’. The talk was given by Devinder Sharma, well known food policy analyst from new Delhi. This was organised as a response to the statement of Mr Ahluvalia the other day.
Mullakkara said that paddy land is close to the hearts of people here, from where began our culture. It gave birth to folk songs. It produced poets and artists . It gave children joy . It knitted a society with responsibility and ethics. It produced food and gave birth toa food culture . He explained that paddy lands which lie between two hillocks gave freedom to people. So when Ahluvalia says that Kerala should stop thinking about self reliance in food and need not cultivate paddy it means that he is asking us to give away our poetry, songs, joy and culture.
When we discuss about revival of paddy cultivation we have to begin from here. But paddy farmers are in deep crisis. Main crisis is economical, but there are other problems also. So how do we correct this and give them a decent income ? How to bring back the pride in paddy cultivation?
Think openly. You and me are ready to give money to every other thing , but not for farmers, especially food producers. Apart from producing rice, paddy farmers also assure us water. They give us songs, poetry, joy and freedom. They teach our children ethics ( without any fees),about soil, climate, seed, food, biodiversity etc. They teach our children how to live harmoniously with each other and with environment. But because of our neglect they die. Greedy industries and real estate developers try to convince us that once we allow them to ‘develop’ the paddy lands , they will provide modern dignified jobs to our youth.Government simply support this argument. Ahluvalia was reflecting only the government stance .
What is the reality? Are we ready to sacrifice our songs, poetry, joy , water security, health security etc for some modern jobs? some money? or are we ready to sacrifice little for the sake of protecting the paddy wetlands for the sake of our culture and our children and of course some silent children of our earth.