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barren: Groundnut crop in a field in Challakere taluk has withered following inadequate rainfall.
barren: Groundnut crop in a field in Challakere taluk has withered following inadequate rainfall.

Staff Correspondent

Chitradurga: Erratic and scanty rainfall has left farmers cultivating groundnut in Challakere and Molakalmuru taluks a despondent lot.

Groundnut has been the traditional and major crop of the two taluks for years.

With no irrigation facilities, most of the farmers in the taluks are dependent on rainfall.

But for the past three years, these taluks have not received adequate rainfall resulting in crop loss.

In 2003-04, the loss of groundnut crop was assessed at Rs. 18 crore, which escalated to Rs. 26 crore in 2004-05. The loss was Rs. 100 crore in 2005-06.

According to sources in the Agriculture Department, the sowing area in Challakere taluk is 90,000 hectares, while in Molakalmuru sowing was take up in 22,000 hectares of land.

They said that sowing had been completed in 86,000 hectares in Challakere and in 21,000 hectares in Molakalmuru taluks. However, farmers are apprehensive of crop loss this year too as the taluks have not received adequate rain, said farmers’ leader K.P. Bhutayya.

He said that in the first week of July, Challakere taluk received enough rain to wet the land.

In the hope of receiving more rain, farmers began sowing work. “But the seeds did not germinate because of scanty rainfall. The soil has also lost moisture,” Mr. Bhutayya said.

They also complain of inadequate supply of seeds. The farmers, who required about five quintals of seeds, received only about quintals. Each hectare of land requires nearly 1.5 quintal of seeds.

Officials of the department admitted that they did not receive a full consignment from the Government. “We could procure only 16,000 quintals of seeds from the Government,” they said.

Owing to seed scarcity, farmers were forced to sow sunflower in the remaining part of their fields. Sources said the market price per quintal of groundnut ranged between Rs. 1,200 and 1,500, which is encouraging for farmers.

Mr. Bhutayya said the Government should assess crop loss as early as possible and provide relief to farmers. He demanded a joint survey by the Revenue and Agriculture departments for loss assessment.

He also urged the Union Government to announce a special Prime Minister’s package, similar to the one extended to pomegranate farmers of the district who had lost their crop owing to pest attack.

Mr. Bhutayya said a group of farmers had submitted a memorandum to MP N.Y. Hanumantappa seeking relief from the Union Government.

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