Hiriyur and Chitradurga taluks in Chitradurga district have emerged as the leading pomegranate growing areas in the state.
Relatively dry weather and red soil found in these two taluks are favourable for growing the crop.
A few years ago, a group of farmers from Hiriyur and Chitradurga had decided to experiment growing pomegranate after they suffered heavy losses by cultivating traditional crops in dry conditions. The yield surpassed their expectations. This encouraged villagers of Hosadurga also to take up pomegranate cultivation on a large scale.
Principal secretary to the Department of Horticulture M K Shankarlinge Gowda told Express that the farmers of Hiriyur and Chitradurga taluks are happy with the soil productivity and more and more farmers are switching over to growing pomegranate as it consumes less water.
Hiriyur and Chitradurga taluks have overtaken Bagalkot district in the cultivation of the fruit. Previously, Bagalkot was the leading pomegranate producer which exported the fruit to many countries, including the Middle-East. However, wet conditions and black soil led to frequent pest attacks, affecting the production badly.
Pomegranate was once grown on 13,000 hectares in Bagalkot, but now it has decreased to around 1,600-2,000 hectares. There is a demand for pomegranates grown in the state in European countries because of their taste, colour and higher number of seeds compared to other varieties. Besides, the pesticide residues were comparatively low and within permissible limits as well.
Centre of Excellence
Gowda said a Centre of Excellence at an estimated cost of `10 crore is coming up in Bagalkot and it will use Israeli technology to address the problems of pomegranate growers. The centre will train local farmers on water management.
“We have set up excellent infrastructure for the centre and the faculty will train farmers in batches to use modern technology to increase pomegranate cultivation,” he said.
The centre is expected to be inaugurated next week by either Union Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar or Chief Minister Siddaramaiah.
Gowda also said plans are afoot to promote pomegranate cultivation on a large scale in Tumkur and Arsikere taluks, instead of the traditional coconut production. One of the recommendations of the Gorak Singh Committee was to coax farmers in coconut growing areas to go for alternative crops like pomegranate, guava and mango.
“If everything goes as planned, more and more areas in Karnataka will cultivate pomegranate in the coming years,” he added.