Heavy rain rained misery on Karnataka farmers in 2022

During monsoon, the state received 1,009 mm of rainfall as against the norm of 839 mm. The excess rainfall damaged crops in nearly 10 lakh hectares.

Published: 27th December 2022 07:07 AM  |   Last Updated: 27th December 2022 07:07 AM   |  A+A-

looking back, 2022

For representational purposes

Express News Service

BENGALURU: Karnataka received good rain this year, at least 400 mm more than the normal. There was heavy rain during pre-monsoon, Southwest monsoon and Northeast monsoon seasons, but it did not help end farmers’ misery as the copious, but unseasonal, rain heavily saturated the soil. At the same time, shortage in fertilisers and wild fluctuation in prices too hit their dreams hard.

In the last 22 years, Karnataka has had over 15 years of drought, but things started looking up in the last couple of years with good rain. But that led to flooding in some parts of the state. Thanks to good pre-monsoon showers, many farmers went for short-duration crops and even got a good yield. But their happiness was short-lived.

During monsoon, the state received 1,009 mm of rainfall as against the norm of 839 mm. The excess rainfall damaged crops in nearly 10 lakh hectares. To mitigate their problems, the government increased the compensation from Rs 6,800 to Rs 13,600 per hectare, from Rs 13,500 to Rs 25,000 for irrigated crops and from Rs 18,000 to Rs 28,000 for multi-year crops. But that hardly seemed to help.

On one hand, farmers were not able to get the yield expected at many places, on the other, their produce did not get a good price. As the government has not built cold storage units in many places to store crops and allow farmers to wait for better prices, they were forced to sell their produce outside the state, pushing them further into distress.

In North Karnataka, where grape is a major agri-produce, farmers are forced to ferry it to Maharashtra as no freezer facilities are available here. For sugarcane growers, the issue is fair and remunerative price (FRP), over which they have been protesting for weeks. The state government ordered sugar factories to pay Rs 50 extra per tonne from the profit they gain through byproducts, but farmers are not happy.

As a solution to their various problems, the state government has been advising farmers to take up multi crops. Agriculture Minister BC Patil said farmers who are not adopting comprehensive agriculture, but stress on a single or two crops face more disappointment and this is one of the reasons for farmers’ suicide. A lot needs to be done to educate farmers and bring in awareness, he said.

The State Agriculture Department, however, is facing over 50 per cent staff shortage and most of  the vacancies are in field-level official posts, who are the crucial cog in reaching government schemes to farmers.

While arecanut growers faced the issue of bacterial infection that almost killed their trees in Malnad and surrounding areas, the recent Cyclone Mandous destroyed many horticulture crops, including tomatoes, in Kolar, Tumakuru and other districts.

On a positive note, Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai allocated a sizeable amount of Rs 33,700 crore in his budget for agriculture and irrigation sectors. The government also stressed on chemical-free farming by starting pilot studies at four agriculture universities in Bengaluru, Dharwad, Raichur and Shivamogga.

The government is also encouraging farmers to form Farmer Producer Organisations (FPOs), a collective of agriculturists who grow, process, pack, brand and market their crops to increase their profits. This is in line with the central government’s aim to double farmers’ income. The Directorate of Secondary Agriculture too was constituted.

The state government had launched Vidhyanidhi, a scholarship programme for farmers’ children, and it has now been extended to children of agriculture labourers too.

As the sale of substandard seeds and fertilisers has been a big problem for farmers, the government has strengthened the agriculture department by increasing the number of vigilance wing units from two to four. They have been conducting raids and taking action against unscrupulous traders and cracking down on inter-state rackets.

Farmers in some parts of the state also faced a shortage of fertilisers. They were hit the hardest when fertilisers were needed the most during the monsoon. Officials blame vested interests for creating an artificial shortage.

India Matters


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