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Kuttanad is one of the few places in the world where farming is carried around 4 to 10 feet (1.2 to 3.0 m) below sea level. It is a unique and globally important agricultural heritage system & the farmers here are famous for Biosaline farming.

The history of the paddy cultivation in Kuttanad can be traced back to centuries. In this large farming areas near the Vembanad Lake were actually reclaimed from the shallow areas of the lake and constituted of small areas of paddy fields called “Padsekharams”. Water was initially bailed out from the fields manually using water wheels called Chakrams. This method of farming contributes remarkably well to the conservation of biodiversity and ecosystem services including several livelihood services for local communities.

After monsoon, cultivation is taken up on lands bounded by waterways by erecting bunds along the flow of water. When water flow increases, the bunds are breached causing floods in the paddy fields. The sowing of the Punja crop (Rabi season) takes place in November / December immediately after the North East Monsoon and harvesting is done in March / April. A second crop is taken in selected areas as Virippu crop (Kharif season) when sowing takes place in June / July immediately after the South West Monsoon and harvesting is done in September / October. The paddy fields are flooded with water to reduce the soil acidity and to control weeds & pests. Duck rearing is also done during the period of flooding. Before sowing, the flooded water is pumped out through centrifugal force using engine pumps after the bunds are repaired.

Nowadays Kuttanad region has been under intense and increasing anthropogenic pressure over the years, which has adversely affected its ecology as well as the livelihood of the people. The high level of pollution with organic, inorganic and toxic material locally generated and brought in by the rivers, aggressive spread of water hyacinth, poor drainage due to choked water ways, increasing intensity of flooding resulting in loss of flora and aquatic fauna.