Curtain have come down on this year’s Pokkali rice cultivation cycle with a harvest festival at the Nedungad field collective near Nayarambalam on Vypeen island in Ernakulam district of Kerala.

 

What is Pokkali variety of rice?

  • The pokkali variety, known for its saltwater resistance, flourishes in the paddy fields of coastal Alappuzha, Ernakulam and Thrissur districts. The uniqueness of the rice has brought it the Geographical Indication (GI) tag and is the subject of continuing research.
  • Pokkali is an ancient farming practice where one season of rice farming is alternated with another season of prawn culture. The prawn seedlings, which swim in from the sea and the backwaters after the rice harvest, feed on the leftovers of the harvested crop.
  • The rice crop, which gets no other fertiliser or manure, draws nutrients from the prawns’ excrement and other remnants.  Rice farming and prawn farming are mutually complementary.
  • Pokkali has an excellent gene pool which is very useful for salinity tolerance.

 

Historical background

Five kilos of Vyttila-11 variety of pokkali seedlings were sent by post by Francis Kalathungal, who is part of the Pokkali Samrakshana Samithi, which has been at the vanguard of a movement to revive pokkali cultivation and prevent it from dying out.