Tumkur, Karnataka: In less than a month, Karnataka is due to mark the harvest festivals of Sankranti and Pongal. It is unlikely that farmers will have much to celebrate.
A delayed monsoon, late by nearly 6-8 weeks, meant that sowing was pushed back. And that has meant a smaller yield. Farmers like Chikkarangamma say they are saddled with a 20 per cent lower-than-usual output for oil seeds like groundnuts and pulses like green gram.
A small farmer in Tumkur District in southern Karnataka, Chikkarangamma collects harvest in the fold of her sari. “This is all I get this year, like alms,” she says as she deposits ragi in the folds of her cotton sari.
She says she was two months behind schedule on planting ragi seeds on most of her one-acre farm. The poor rain has affected not just quantity but also quality.
She spent Rs. 12,000 on her crop and she expects to earn a maximum of Rs. 4,000. “I have to pay 6,000 rupees just as interest on the loans I took,” she says, standing on the land that has let her down. “What am I going to do? Just where will I go? Sometimes I wish when I go to bed that there is no morning. The rains fail me each year and so do my crops.”
Sowing this year was delayed by over a month in some parts of Karnataka. The delay was twice that in the driest stretches of the state, like Chitradurga, Raichur and Gadag. Short duration crops like black gram were cultivated in 35,000 hectares less than usual, because of the delayed monsoon. In the sugarcane and cotton belts, nearly 26,000 hectares were left empty without any sowing during June and July.
Crops like green gram were replaced with sunflower and soya bean by most farmers this year, because they are easier to produce with a limited supply of water.
But many, like Chikkarangamma, didn’t make the switch.
The state government is assessing the impact of the delay in sowing on crop production and will prepare a report which will be sent to the Centre.