This high altitude district is characterized by the cultivation of perennial crops and spices. The major plantation crops include coffee, tea, pepper, cardamom and rubber. Coffee based farming system is a notable feature of Wayanad. Coffee is grown both as pure crop and as a mixed crop along with pepper. Pepper is grown largely along with coffee in the northeastern parts of the district, especially in Pulpally and Mullankolli areas. Coffee in Wayanad (66,999 ha.) shares 33.65 percent of the total cropped area in the district and 78 percent of the coffee area in the state.
Other major crops rubber (63,015 ha), coconut (59,452 ha), cardamom (38,348 ha), tea (31,792 ha) cassava and ginger. A recent increase in the area under coconut cultivation is noticed in the lower elevations.
Paddy is cultivated in 22,772 hectares of land. The rice fields of Wayanad are in the valleys formed by hillocks and in majority of paddy lands; only a single crop is harvested. Ginger cultivation in Wayanad has also substantially increased in recent times and the ginger produced is mainly marketed in the form of green ginger. Homestead farming assumes importance in this district. The average sizes of holdings are 0.68 ha. A variety of cropsincluding annuals and perennials are grown in these smallholdings. The crops include coconut, arecanut, pepper, vegetables, tuber crops, drumstic, papaya, etc. And fruit trees like mango and jack.
The crop patterns / crop combinations prevalent in this district are not based on any scientific norms. Therefore scientific cropping patterns suitable for the agro-ecological situation is to be recommended.
Marketing of Agricultural Produce
The marketing of coffee was fully regulated by the Coffee Board till 1992 and the entire coffee grown in the district had to be pooled to the Board. But in the Coffee Policy of 1995-96, the Government exempted small-scale growers possessing land less than 10 hectares from the obligation of pooling. Those growers with more than 10 hectares of coffee plantation were obliged to provide 60 percent of their produces to the Coffee Board. But Government of India recently announced the abolition of the pooling system for coffee altogether from 14th September 1996 and coffee growers are now free to market either in the domestic market or export.
Pepper is marketed mainly as dried berries. The different agencies engaged in the marketing of the produce are hill produce merchants, marketing societies, commition agents and exporters. Being an export-oriented commodity, pepper prices show frequent fluctuations depending on the international prices prevailing for the commodity from time to time. Ginger is mainly marketed as green ginger. Cardamom is sold at auction centres. The traders are licensed by the Spices Board and they participate in the different marketing centres for auction. Rubber is a controlled commodity and is mainly marketed in the form of smoked rubber sheets. A large number of private dealers as well as the primary rubber marketing societies under the Rubber Marketing Federation operate at the village level for the purchase and sale of the commodity.
Wayanad has 25 agricultural units known as Krishi Bhavans. Each unit is under the charge of an Agricultural officer and 2 or 3 Agricultural assistants. There is also a farm of the Tribal Development Department known as Cheengeri Extention Scheme, Ambalavayal and it is managed by the Agricultural Department. The office of the Principal Agricultural Officer is located at Kalpetta with six Deputy Directors, 2 Assistant Directors, 1 Technical assistant and 1 Principal Agricultural Officer (Joint director of Agriculture) who co-ordinates the schemes executed in the district by Department of Agriculture.
There are also three block level offices; each headed by one Assistant Director of Agriculture to co-ordinate the schemes being implemented in their respective blocks.
“Never put off till tomorrow what can be done today.”