Cotton cultivators face spectre of crop failure

Farmers say cotton plants will have stunted growth due to inadequate water and the yield may drop.— PHOTO: M.A. SRIRAM  

There are growing fears that the crisis plaguing sugarcane cultivators and sericulture farmers will come to haunt cotton cultivators due to a prolonged dry spell in the region and the lack irrigation facilities.

H.D. Kote taluk is one of the prime cotton growing areas and most of the farmers have switched to commercial crops like Bt.Cotton. Though there are four dams in the taluks — the Kabini, the Hebbala, Taraka and the Nugu — there are no irrigation canals and the reservoirs serve the fields in the downstream areas but not H.D.Kote.

As a result, agriculture in H.D. Kote is mainly under rain-fed conditions but the taluk received very little rain and the cotton farmers are in dire straits. As per the rainfall data for the July 1 to 30 available with the Karnataka State Natural Disaster Monitoring Centre, H.D. Kote taluk received 49.6 mm of rainfall against a normal of 201.4 mm.

Vivek Cariappa, a farmer based in Sargur in H.D. Kote, said that cotton was drying up due to scanty rain across the district. Against a normal of 121 mm of rain, Mysuru received only 38.7 mm.

What has added to the farmers’ distress is the lack of power in rural areas as a result of which they are unable to operate borewells, said Mr. Cariappa. “Power is being supplied only for two hours a day,” he said.

Though the Agriculture Department has claimed that the intermittent rain during July had provided enough moisture for crops to sustain, farmers say crops, especially cotton, will have a stunted growth due to inadequate water and the yield may drop.

The prices have come down below the minimum selling price despite low output, according to Mr. Cariappa, adding that cotton cultivators fear that the situation would deteriorate as there was very slow off-take of cotton in the international market.

In the meantime, the government has been urged to be pro-active and get buyers from Tamil Nadu, a major producer of cotton fabrics, to stabilise the cotton prices and ensure that it does not crash further.

The farmers in the region have alleged that the APMC yard was dominated by intermediaries who do not allow direct interface between the buyers and the farmers and this should be rectified.

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Printable version | Jan 17, 2021 10:13:09 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/karnataka/cotton-cultivators-face-spectre-of-crop-failure/article7506150.ece

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