With just 48 hours left for submitting applications for availing Rs. 10,000 under the Suvarna Bhoomi Yojane, only one-third of the targeted beneficiaries have shown interest in the scheme in Dakshina Kannada.
Till April 28, the Department of Agriculture had received 9,684 applications as against the estimated 27,841 eligible persons in the district. The last date for applying is April 30.
Under the scheme, farmers with land holdings of up to five acres can claim Rs. 10,000 for developing a maximum of two acres of their land to start horticulture, build fish-breeding ponds, agriculture, or apiculture. The amount of financial aid released to a farmer will be proportionate to the land holdings.
In all, 8,218 applications for horticultural crops were received against the target for the sector (6,879). But the number of applications received for agriculture (growing oilseeds and pulses) has not crossed 1,000 despite the target for this sector being the highest (16,704) in the scheme.
Karnataka Rajya Raitha Sangha district unit working president Ravikiran Poonacha said this was because most farmers hoped that they would be allowed to plant banana. The idea caught on after banana was widely planted under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act.
However, he said the scheme would “definitely not benefit farmers” because paddy, which was the main crop of the region, was not listed under the scheme. Both the Joint Director of Agriculture and the Deputy Commissioner had separately written to the State government requesting for the inclusion of paddy in the scheme.
Another drawback was that the scheme did not allow inter-crop (growing more than one crop on a patch of land).
Mr. Poonacha said that farmers in the region generally grew a mixture of areca, coconut, pepper, cocoa, and banana, all within the same meagre land holding. Joint Director of Agriculture A. Padmaiah Naik raised this issue at a meeting convened by the Deputy Commissioner to discuss the implementation of the scheme, he said.
Mr. Poonacha said if farmers were to benefit from the scheme, they would have to grow any one horticultural crop on their land. “This is not feasible for 90 per cent of small and marginal farmers in the district because no one has enough land to be used under the scheme,” he said. The only exception was paddy growers, but they could not spare the land for this purpose, he added.
He said the sangha would request the district administration to accommodate all applications for horticulture crops within the target for agriculture as the demand for the latter was poor.
Deputy Director of Fisheries Suresh Kumar Ullal had not expected commercial fish breeding in ponds to have many takers as marine fish was easily available and scarcity of water during the summer made it unviable, he added.