Farmers of Holalkere, Hosadurga and Chitradurga taluks, who had cultivated arecanut on thousands of acres of land expecting huge profits, have incurred heavy losses owing to scanty rainfall in the last three years and depletion of groundwater table. Majority of farmers in these taluks had taken up cultivation of arecanut owing to steep increase in its price in the last few years.

According official sources, the district did not receive ample rainfall in the last three years and growers managed to protect their crops by drilling borewells up to a depth of 800 ft in their farms. But in recent times, the groundwater table has depleted considerably, making it difficult to get water even after drilling borewells beyond the depth of 800 ft. Some of the growers who were financially strong had managed get water for crops supplied through tankers.

Last year, arecanut palms on 3,075 acres of land had withered completely owing to lack of water, and this time, the crop on 2,500 acres of land has dried up, making it difficult for growers to repay the debts and also to run their families.

Nagaraj, a grower from Chitradurga taluk, told The Hindu that he could not protect arecanut palms on his 8-acre farm owing to scarcity of water and had felled the palms to go for a different crop this year. The State government should pay compensation to all those who had incurred losses, he said.

“Every time the authorities claim that they are assessing crop loss in the affected areas and that growers would get suitable compensation from the government. But growers in these three taluks have not received even a single rupee as compensation for the crops that were lost last year,” he claimed. Apart from scanty rainfall, arecanut growers also incurred losses owing to untimely rain that lashed the district on March 7 and April 18 this year. Arecanut cultivated on 57.94 hectares of land was destroyed in the heavy rain and hailstorm — 14.46 hectares in Challakere taluk, 37.7 hectares in Hiriyur and 5.78 hectares in Holalkere taluk.

Report on relief

Officials of the Horticulture Department said a report on the last year’s crop loss in these taluks was sent to the State government and the affected growers would get a compensation of Rs. 9,000 a hectare. The release of compensation was delayed owing to various technical reasons and the Lok Sabha elections. This year also officials were conducting a survey of the affected crop and a report would be sent to the government for further action, sources said.

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