Additional Chief Secretary and Development Commissioner G V Krishna Rau on Thursday said the Horticulture Department would be abetting farmer suicide by promoting unsustainable modes of horticulture.
He was speaking at a function organised by the Karnataka State Department of Horticulture to outline horticultural programmes in the state.
Rau said, “Horticulture experts must tell farmers that higher returns are not without associated risks. In the enthusiasm to talk about benefits of horticulture, we don’t talk about risks. Problems need to be addressed by experts, not farmers.”
In Balegal near Bijapur, which gets about 350 mm of rain, the department urged farmers to grow grapes, a water-intensive crop which needs around 1,000 mm of water. Borewell water lasted for about two or three years, but later farmers were forced to borrow heavily, said Rau. By the fourth or fifth year, the groundwater began receding and many farmers took their lives.
More than 50 per cent of the land in the state is under dryland agriculture. Reckless use of groundwater is unsustainable and the Horticulture Department should work on sustainable models of agriculture, he said.