Lakhs of small and marginal farmers to benefit

With more than one-fourth of kharif crops damaged by the erratic southwest monsoon last year, the UPA government has released Rs. 322 crore for providing compensation to lakhs of small and marginal farmers in the poll-bound State of Karnataka.

Twenty-six per cent of sown crop area was destroyed due to inadequate rainfall in the 2012 kharif season and the government has declared drought in 157 taluks in the State.

In 2012 kharif season, crops were sown on 62.8 lakh hectares much lower than the normal coverage of 71.34 lakh hectares. A total of 16.21 lakh hectares of sown area was damaged due to erratic monsoon in north and south Karnataka.

The Centre released the amount last week and compensation will be paid to farmers through tahsildars. Maximum compensation of Rs. 2,000 would be paid to a marginal famer owning less than one acre in the rainfed region, while a maximum of Rs. 4,000 will be paid to a farmer who owns between one and two acres in irrigated regions, officials in the Agriculture Department told The Hindu.

There are 30 lakh marginal and 17.7 small farmers in the State. Of the Rs. 322 crore sanctioned, Rs. 100 crore will be given to the Horticulture Department for payment of compensation for loss of horticultural crops. The State’s economic survey said the farm sector’s growth was only 1.8 per cent in 2012-13, primarily due to widespread drought.

State’s memorandum

The State government has submitted a memorandum to the Centre seeking Rs. 1,666 crore for compensation to farmers for crop loss.

The State has faced consistent drought in the last 13 years except in 2000-01, 2005-06 and 2010-11. The percentage sown area affected by drought was highest in 2002-03 – at 51, followed by 42 in 2003-04, 41 in 2001-02 and 33 in 2011-12.

The State had recorded more than 100 per cent sowing against the normal area (71.34 lakh hectares) only for three seasons — 2005-06 (102 p.c.), 2007-08 (104 p.c.) and 2010-11 (104 p.c.).

The State has been prone to drought as it has limited scope for expansion of irrigation potential since Karnataka is an upper riparian State. The overall potential for irrigation is 60 lakh hectares; and at present 70 per cent has been achieved.

The government has been implementing the Bhoo Chetana programme since 2009-10 to increase average productivity of rainfed and irrigated crops (sugarcane and paddy) by 20 per cent. It has achieved good results in places where the thrust was given to micro-irrigation systems for increasing water-use efficiency.

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