Area under paddy cultivation in Dakshina Kannada dwindled by over 5,000 hectares in the past decade owing to various reasons. High cost of fertilizer this year is likely to discourage farmers from going ahead with paddy cultivation, according to sources in the Department of Agriculture here.
The sources told The Hindu that there was an unprecedented hike in fertilizer cost this year, especially this season when paddy growers were preparing for khariff sowing.
A senior official in the department said that the price of muriate of potash (MoP) had more than doubled now when compared to the same period last year. Its price now stood at Rs. 882 for a 50 kg bag when compared to Rs. 315 for a 50 kg bag during the same period last year.
He said red soil in Dakshina Kannada had acute deficit of potash. Many paddy growers in the district needed it. As there was not much natural deposit of potash in the country, it was being imported. Devaluation of rupee against the dollar was said to be one of the reasons for the steep hike in the price of MoP.
The official said that the cost of 15:15:15 Suphala, widely used by farmers, had jumped from Rs. 414 a bag to more than Rs. 690.
He said that prices of other fertilizers used by farmers during sowing season had also gone up.
According to the department, the area under paddy cultivation in Dakshina Kannada was 38,291 hectares in 1999-2000 khariff season. It came down to 32,423 hectares in 2011-12 khariff.
Hayavadana Rao, a paddy grower from Kuthethur, said of the seven acres of field he owned, he cultivated paddy in two acres last year. As there was a steep hike in input cost and shortage of workers, he was re-thinking of growing paddy only in two acres this year.
Mr. Rao said that even if he grew paddy this season, he would stop using fertilizers as it was unaffordable.
Venkatesh, another grower from Madya, said that as the prices of fertilizers were on an upward trend from last year, he used only urea last season.
He said that he would not use any fertilizer this year as it was beyond his reach.
Mr. Ventakesh said that he would concentrate on organic farming.
He said that paddy growers should recover at least Rs. 18 for a kg of paddy to meet the production cost. “I could recover only Rs. 9.50 a kg last year,” he added.
According to an agriculture official, the minimum support price for a kg of paddy was Rs. 13 last year.
Mr. Rao said that scanty rainfall this year might also affect paddy cultivation.
According to the department, Dakshina Kannada recorded 105.50 mm of rain from January 2012 to June 4, 2012 as against 364.52 mm recorded during the same period in 2011.
Keywords: Agriculture Department