Kerala: Food for thought

Food for thought
This refers to Pulapre Balakrishnan’s article “Food on its own terms” (The Hindu, March 2). These days, getting an unbiased assessment on any current issue is a rarity. When it about a sensitive subject relating to a state like Kerala, even before reading the article, the reader will start thinking about the background of the writer and ‘colour’ of the newspaper. Here the writer has attempted to give a realistic picture of present day Kerala, given the background for the present difficulties faced by the state on the food front and given realistic suggestions to retrieve Kerala from the present predicament.
For Kerala, just as the state has successfully created  awareness about the need improve domestic  production of vegetables, it is possible to produce a lot  more food grains by changing its approach to method of cultivation. The new approach will have to harness the state’s inherent strengths like availability of water, a strong cooperative movement with a population which believes in thrift and mutual help and ‘seed capital’ in the form of high level per capita bank deposits.
Pinarayi Vijayan seems to have forgotten his own statement that if the cooperative banks and the primary credit societies in Kerala come together, the entity will be the biggest banking institution in Kerala. Even in non-banking sectors, institutions like Uralungal Labour Contract Society Ltd(in its 80’s) can become role models for farming societies across the state, if only the right initiative comes from the government to support farming in available parcels of land.
The setbacks suffered by the state for historical reasons, many of which are listed in the article and others like total neglect of Malabar during the last century should be forgotten and the present government should lead by example to prove that the success story of God’s Own country in literacy and other Human Development Indicators will not be allowed to fade by failure on food front.
M G Warrier, Mumbai
PS: The quote “Ariyetra?...” mentioned in the article refers to the proverbial question “Ariyetra?...”(How much rice?) and the irrelevant answer “Payaranjazhi…” (Payar five measures…) where ‘Payar’ is a variety of pulse. Perhaps the cartoonist emphasizes the communication gap between Centre and states!


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