This study report by the M S Swaminathan Research Foundation deals with the measures to mitigate agrarian distress in Idukki district of Kerala.
Although Idukki is generally perceived as a ‘spices district’ and a ‘plantation crop district’, about 95 per cent of the farmers here are small with tribal farmers constituting a substantial component. Public investment in agriculture in this district is very poor and this hampers agricultural progress and rural livelihoods in many ways.
As a result of high cost of production of major crops and its volatile prices, small farmers who constitute the majority of the farming population have accumulated debt burden exceeding 700 crores. More than eighty per cent of this debt is due to crop loans to small and marginal farmers.
The recommendations in this report are made after giving due consideration to ongoing programmes and resources being made available thereof. These are mainly focused on the small, marginal and tribal farmers and other economically disadvantaged sections. The stress is on sustainability of agricultural production systems and strengthening the regional ecology.
The report traces factors of farm distress and discusses how the intensity of impact created by adverse market crops, increased cost of production and aberrant agro-climatic factors varied with crops. Certain district specific factors imposed restrictions on choice of crops. The report made suggestions on the following aspects to restore ecological security –
- Changing climate and degrading ecology
- Endangered forest
- Unsustainable biomass forestry
- Counter expanding rain-shadow region
- Managing forest resources
- Harnessing water resources
- Managing man-made and man-animal conflicts
- Sustainable extraction of Non Timber Forest Produce
Download the report here -