Paddy cultivation in full swing in Kashmir amid corona fear

Srinagar (IANS) Despite restrictions and the absence of non-local workers, Kashmir's paddy transplantation season is going on full swing as locals are ensuring that the lands of their ancestors do not go barren because of the threat posed by the global pandemic.

For over two decades, most of the agricultural processes involved in the paddy cultivation in Kashmir have remained dependent on non-local labourers.

These non-locals belonging to Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal, Jharkhand, Bihar and other states would be engaged in all the paddy cultivation processes, including sowing, transplantation, de-weeding and harvesting.

Since there are hardly any such labourers available in Kashmir during this year's paddy transplantation season, local farmers have taken up the challenge in their right earnest.

Hundreds of local farmers are seen these days engaged in the paddy transplantation and every member of these families, including men, women and children are seen toiling it out in the fields.

Authorities of the government run irrigation department have made all irrigation canals functional in the valley since paddy plant is a semi-aquatic plant and its stock must remain immersed in water till the ripening stage which starts in September-October here.

Interestingly, while engaged in the paddy transplantation, most locals are wearing masks and as far as possible, they are trying to maintain social distancing.

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Given the size of the agricultural land holdings in Kashmir it is possible to maintain social distancing without hampering the paddy transplantation process.

Farmers are making use of tractors in most areas to carry manure to their fields and also ferry paddy saplings from one place to the other.

Authorities have already announced that there would be no restrictions on agricultural activities and this relaxation has come handy for the paddy transplantation season.

The transplantation process is time bound as all paddy saplings have to be transplanted to the fields from the nurseries before June 21.

What is encouraging this season is that instead of depending on outsiders, locals are not only working in their own fields, but are also seen lending a helping hand to other farmers on a rotational basis.

Despite the restrictions imposed on other movements, officials of the irrigation department are regularly visiting areas to ensure that there is no shortage of water during the Paddy transplantation season.

After many years, it is heartening to hear the Kashmiri farmers sing those traditional songs in a chorus which were iconic of this season in the past.

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