BANGALORE: Dry land farming is likely to become a core area of research, investment and cultivation in the coming days. According to an estimate, out of the total 143 million hectares of dry land, nearly 12 million hectares are in Karnataka because of which all impetus is now being given to utilise this area to increase the food production.
‘Bhoo Chetana’, a project envisaged by the State government in 2009, is focusing on improving dry land agriculture across the State with the help of scientific technologies and sustainable use of natural resources. This programme is being implemented in collaboration with the International Crops Research Institute for Semi Arid Tropics (ICRISAT).
The State government has made a provision of Rs 110 crore for watershed and soil enrichment under ‘Bhoo Chetana’ project as against Rs 40 crore allocated last year.
At the national level, a committee of Governors, constituted by President Pratibha Patil, will finalise a report on revamping the agriculture sector before the forthcoming budget. More investment in agriculture and allied sectors is being sought to increase food production through dry land farming.
Meanwhile, the scientists and agriculturists are worried about the declining profit margin for farmers producing food grains, increased land holdings and division and fragmentation of land.
“It is necessary to encourage development of new technologies for dry land agriculture through research and development. The key to improve the stainability of dry land farming is to stop deterioration of the natural resource base and associated loss of soil productivity,” said Dr K Narayana Gowda, Vice-chancellor of University of Agricultural Sciences (UAS), Bangalore.
Sixty per cent of India’s cultivated area is covered under rain fed and dry land farming contributing to 44 per cent of food production in the country. Karnataka has the second largest area under rain fed agriculture after Rajasthan in the country with over 120 lakh hectares of such land.
Gowda said the increased importance should be placed on animal husbandry, sericulture and fisheries in dry land farming programme.
“Though no systematic study has been conducted, it is seen as a phenomenon that the third generation of farming communities are losing interest in farming due to exposure of rapid urbanisation and changing lifestyle. This needs to be tackled urgently,” Gowda explained.