Staff Correspondent

The absence of sunlight may affect the growth of seeds

Chitradurga: Incessant rain and cloudy weather have made farmers apprehensive of losing sunflower crop to about 50 per cent this season in Chitradurga district.

According to agricultural experts, the district has received adequate rain to meet the requirements of sunflower crop and the time is conducive for bumper crop, provided it stops raining for the next fortnight. However, in the absence of adequate sunlight, the seeds do not grow fully, and the chances of pest attack also increases.

The district receives an average rainfall of 194.4 mm up to the end of July. However, the district has received 294.8 mm compared to last year’s 200.4 mm of rainfall. Farmers are this year hoping for better yield, following adequate rain, unlike in the last few years.

Sources said that on an average, in every 10 years, the district faces drought for.

The sowing area in the district is estimated at 3.58 lakh hectares, of which over 50 per cent is used for growing oil seeds, mainly groundnut.

The Department of Agriculture, for this year, has set a target of sowing sunflower in 25,000 hectares of land. Production is targeted at 15,000 tonnes.

“Though our target is to produce nine quintals of sunflower in an acre of land, the department has not been able to achieve this owing to the lack of rainfall and poor irrigation facilities,” said joint director Agriculture Department B.S. Shankar.

He said that every year, farmers reaped only six quintals of sunflower.

Similar, is the case with other major crops such as groundnut, maize and cotton. Maize is set to be grown in 45,000 hectares to produce 1.62 lakh tonnes. Groundnut is set to be taken up in 1.50 lakh hectares for a yield of 2.10 lakh tonnes. Cotton, which is another commercial crop, is estimated to be grown in 7,000 hectares for a yield of 11,270 bales.

“We have been setting targets every year, and it is possible to achieve more than the target if the district receives better and timely rainfall,” Mr. Shankar said.

He said that last year 23,000 farmers had applied for crop insurance for 57,796 hectares of land.

The amount of insurance was Rs. 3,452 crore, while premium paid was Rs. 126 crore. As many as 11,209 farmers claimed insurance. They were paid Rs. 375 crore. The department is yet to receive the details of this year’s insurance from banks.