With the continuous rain breaking all seasonal records in October-November by 51 per cent, Karnataka is suffering major crop damage, threatening to push up prices of vegetables and food grains and making life even more difficult for people.
According to the latest Meteorological Centre data records, Karnataka received 97 per cent excess cumulative seasonal rainfall in October-November – 324.1 mm against the normal of 164.9 mm. South-interior Karnataka received 147 per cent excess rain (452.5 mm against normal of 182.9 mm), coastal Karnataka 104 per cent (483.2 mm against normal of 236.8 mm), and north-interior Karnataka received 8 per cent excess rain (136.7 mm against normal of 127 mm). And it has not stopped.
This has wreaked havoc on the farming community despite an urgent advisory issued by the Agromet Advisory Services of the Farm Information Unit of Gandhi Krishi Vigyan Kendra (GKVK), University of Agricultural Sciences, Bengaluru, for farmers to safeguard their crops and to postpone harvesting till rain stops. The advisory was based on observation of existing crop conditions — groundnut, maize and paddy at maturity to harvesting stage but affected by sprouting; waterlogging of finger millet and paddy crop; wilt menace in pigeonpea had increased.
However, it may have been too late. Officials informed Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai that standing crops on 2.33 lakh hectares of land across the state have been damaged. Of these, crops on 2.05 lakh hectares are agricultural crops, while those on 28,316 hectares are horticultural crops.
“The prices of vegetables are almost doubled, and are likely to increase further if rains continue for another week,” Devaraj, a wholesale onion merchant in Hassan, says. He added that a retailer should sell vegetables at a minimum Rs 75 per kg to make any profit, which is difficult now. “The government should assess the loss and immediately release compensation to the affected farmers. Over 70 per cent of horticulture crops are washed away in floods and the prices will skyrocket in the coming days,” he says.
CHITRADURGA, DAVANAGERE: Standing crops on 66,376 hectares in Chitradurga district are devastated, while in Davangere, crops on 1,331.30 hectares are damaged. Heavy rain over several days has led to tanks brimming and major water bodies overflowing, while the water level at Vanivilas Sagar dam rose to a maximum of 119 feet. Farming activities have come to a grinding halt as agricultural fields are filled with water. The department has sought assistance of Rs 182.41 lakh as per government guidelines towards compensation for farmers.
CHIKKAMAGALURU: Excess rainfall has damaged standing ragi, maize, and chilli crops, besides plantation crops like coffee, areca and pepper. Areca grower Ramesh Neralekere from Tarikere taluk, says, “It is difficult to harvest areca and even after they are plucked, we face problems of drying the peeled and boiled areca.”
Karnataka Growers’ Federation (KGF) former president B S Jayaram says planters are worried as coffee beans are dropping due to continuous rain, apart from plants being affected by fungus and stem borer menace. Vendors and homemakers report that prices of tomato, potato, onion, brinjal, are abnormally high due to crop damage and shrinking stocks. “We are not going to the APMC as the crops are lost,” say vendors.
MYSURU: A close look reveals that sowing coverage was not up to the mark, ranging between 50 per cent and 75 per cent. Sowing of rabi crops was only 0.22 lakh hectares against the target of 0.66 hectares till October. During the corresponding period in 2020, over 0.55 lakh hectare land was sown.
Heavy downpour and incessant rains in the district has not only wreaked havoc on normal life, but has severely damaged standing crops, resulting in prices of various vegetables skyrocketing in the region. “We are unable to procure tomatoes from farmers. With this being the wedding season, there is huge demand for vegetables, especially tomatoes, but even if we are ready to pay Rs 80 per kg, we are not getting the produce,” says Raju, a vegetable vendor.
HASSAN: The district experienced the highest rainfall in a decade with Sakleshpur taluk, adjacent to the Western Ghats, recording the highest-ever rainfall. This has not just thrown life of the Malnad people out of gear, but also destroyed standing crops, paddy, maize, ginger and coffee on a large scale.
Hettur, Yesaluru and Hanbal hoblis – the major coffee growing areas – received a maximum of 220 mm of rain which completely washed away standing crops in the region.
Particularly, ragi on over 35,000 hectares was completely destroyed in Arasikere, Arkalgud and parts of Holenarasipur taluks. Maize, the alternate crop for potato, sown over 8,500 hectares in Hassan, Alur, Holenarasipur and Channarayapatna taluks, is also affected. District authorities reported that paddy sown over 10,500 hectares and Arabica coffee on 18,500 hectares was destroyed due to rains.
DAKSHINA KANNADA, UDUPI: In Udupi district, the major crops destroyed are paddy, Mattu Gulla (a brinjal variety) and Shankarapura Mallige, a GI-tagged jasmine variety. Huge quantity of paddy was destroyed either because it could not be harvested or because the harvested crop got spoiled lying in the fields. Hundreds of acres of paddy have been damaged in Udupi, Kundapur, Hebri, Karkala and Kaup regions.
Mattu Gulla, a GI-tagged brinjal variety, has good demand, but due to rains, the leaves of the plants are rotting and the brinjal is not growing as expected. As the IMD has forecast more heavy rains in the region, growers are more worried now. The delay in rain-related loss inspection by agriculture/horticulture department officials has irked the farmers. However Bhuvaneshwari, Deputy Director of Horticulture, Udupi, says Revenue and Horticulture officials will conduct a joint survey to assess the loss.
Growers of Shankarapura jasmine are also facing the same fate. Bhavani, a grower from Subhash Nagar, says her family is depending on the jasmine crop, but now most of the flowers are falling and expects officials to soon announce compensation packages, without which they would not be able to survive.
SHIVAMOGGA: The district recorded 140.6 mm of rainfall against a normal rainfall of 37.1 mm between November 1 and 19 while Chikkamagaluru recorded 157.8 mm of rain (normal of 43.5 mm) in the same period. Joint Director of Agriculture Kiran Kumar says more than 200 hectares of standing crops are damaged. This includes 170 hectares of paddy, 25 hectares of maize and about 3 hectares of ragi crop.
KODAGU: The district administration has ordered a resurvey of crop damage following requests from coffee growers, who are unsure of the production this year as large quantities of coffee beans have dropped before the picking season. The harvested coffee beans are catching fungus as growers are unable to dry them under the Sun.
DHARWAD: Crops on 8,600 hectares of land have been destroyed in the district. Mallikarjun Balangoudar, a farmer leader and farming expert, says, “The price of vegetables will go upwards. Despite good crop, the price will be hiked as supply has been interrupted due to rains.”
KALABURAGI: A joint survey conducted by Agriculture and Revenue Departments found standing crops on 1.98 lakh hectares (26.29 per cent) including red gram on 1.60 lakh hectares, to be damaged.
(With inputs from Bosky Khanna & Donna Eva in Bengaluru; G Subhash Chandra in Davangere, Chitradurga; Ramachandra V Gunari in Shivamogga; B Thipperudrappa in Chikkamagaluru; Pramodkumar Vaidya in Hubballi; Karthik KK in Mysuru; Prakash Samaga in Udupi; Udaya Kumar B R in Hassan; Ramkrishna Badseshi in Kalaburagi; Prajna GR in Madikeri and Divya Cutinho in Dakshina Kannada)