Staff Correspondent

Smaller landholdings is a hindrance for mechanisation

Need to further subsidise equipment cost stressed

MANGALORE: When it comes to large-scale mechanisation of agricultural processes, officials and farmers in the district do not share the same opinion. At a workshop organised by the district Krishi Vigyan Kendra (KVK) for farmers here on Friday the differences of opinion between the two groups were evident.

The farmers in the district have been facing labour problems. The rising cost of agricultural labour and, of late, its scarcity, have sent the cost of inputs soaring. It has made farming less lucrative by the year.

The officials are of the opinion that mechanisation is the only permanent solution to the problem. Their keenness to push for such a transformation was manifest at an exhibition organised on the sidelines of a workshop for farmers where farming gadgets outnumbered other exhibits. The topics of discussion broached by the experts at the workshop were along the same lines too.

However, the dozens of farmers, who came for the meeting from across the district, did not appear to be convinced. “What is the point replacing one unviable system with another?” asked Robert D’Souza, farmer. Mr. D’Souza, who owns two acres of farmland, feels that investing lakhs of rupees on sophisticated gadgets will not help him in recovering the costs of inputs. H. Hanumanthappa, KVK project coordinator, said he understood the concerns of farmers. “Dakhina Kannada is unlike most other districts in the State and the landholdings here are small. That makes extensive mechanisation a non-viable proposition,” he said.

Mr. Hanumanthappa is a strong believer in long-term benefits of mechanisation. “The rewards are not immediate. But when they come, they bring the added perk of independence,” he says.

Mr. D’Souza, however, says that the Government should further subsidise the cost of implements.

This issue of subsidies led to heated debates during the workshop. Several farmers said that many subsidy schemes have not been implemented.

The officials said their grievance would be investigated.

Another point that figured during the interactions was that of licensing distributors of farming implements. The farmers said that there was only one distributor licensed to set up drip irrigation systems in the district. “The same system can be set up at a fraction of the cost by local fabricators,” a farmer said. Other farmers said that the Government was creating a situation by which the manufacturer of the drip irrigation systems could make huge profits.