Despite the State government being on overdrive to ensure that agricultural activities continue to be normal during this unprecedented crisis caused by COVID-19, officials are keeping their fingers crossed about pre-monsoon crop cultivation.
Besides the main crops such as ragi and maize, farmers cultivate green gram, black gram and sesame, especially in Mysuru, Chamarajanagar, Mandya and Hassan districts, during this season. A senior Agriculture Department official acknowledged that there is concern whether farmers will take up cultivation of these crops given the situation.
According to the official, the preparatory work for sowing normally starts by the first week of April. “In a few places, sowing has been completed, but it has not even commenced in many places. In agriculture timing, is very important. If sowing is delayed, it will hurt the yield and overall productivity,” he said.
He also said that people across the board were staying indoors and labour was in short supply. “We are appealing to farmers to continue with their agricultural activities while also staying safe. District administrations are working with dealers to ensure there is enough supply of seeds and fertilizers,” the official said.
Explaining the importance of pre-monsoon crop for the kharif crop that will follow, another official said that those who grow pre-summer crops normally let plants grow on their fields after harvesting the crops. “The plant stubs become green manure when farmers prepare the fields when monsoon arrives. Pre-monsoon crop contributes to less than 10% of the total agricultural production in the State, but remains important,” the official said. Though pre-monsoon crop depends on early rains in rain-fed regions, farmers with their own irrigation facilities do not wait for the rains.
Meanwhile, in the paddy belt in the irrigated regions of north Karnataka, the crop is waiting to be harvested. An official said the paddy in fields in Raichur, Ballari, Koppal and Gangavathi were ready for harvesting, but farmers were facing labour issues though the department has allowed them to get farm machineries for harvesting.