Karnataka

Farmers demand an end to commercial ginger cultivation

According to an organic farmer, more than 10,000 hectares of land in H.D. Kote taluk is under ginger cultivation taken up on contract basis.

According to an organic farmer, more than 10,000 hectares of land in H.D. Kote taluk is under ginger cultivation taken up on contract basis.  

Farmers in H.D. Kote are up in arms against commercial cultivation of ginger on contract basis in view of the growing degradation of the once-fertile agricultural land.

The farmers have accused contractors of abusing the land through excessive use of chemicals and fertilizers. Recurring crop failure and declining yield of tomato, other horticultural crops and cotton are being attributed to the growing alkaline content and degradation of the land where ginger was cultivated earlier.

Commercial cultivation of ginger on a contract basis is widely prevalent in H.D. Kote and surrounding regions. The agitating farmers have sought government intervention to end this. They have also cautioned that the matter may take a political colour as the State nears the 2018 Assembly elections.

Contract farming entailed investors from neighbouring States, mainly Kerala, to procure vast swathes of agricultural land on lease for 18 months at a stretch. A majority of the farmers initially perceived this as a win-win situation as they would get a hefty lease amount besides work on their own land. Also, the investors would drill borewells on the plots which the farmers could use after the lease period expired.

Abuse of land

But in the quest for higher profits, many contractors abused the land through reckless use of chemicals and fertilizers. “Though some of us brought this to the notice of the authorities, no action was taken to curb the practices as there is nothing in the law to prevent people from leasing their land,” said Vivek Cariappa, an organic farmer from H.D. Kote.

He said more than 10,000 hectares of land in H.D. Kote taluk alone was under ginger cultivation taken up on contract basis. This land has turned alkaline, much to the chagrin of the original landowners. Not only has the land degraded, the yield has declined, with the tomato and cotton farmers are among the worst affected, say farmers.

“A memorandum seeking government intervention to curb contract and commercial farming of ginger in the taluk within the framework of the law has already been submitted and we are awaiting the outcome,” Mr. Cariappa said.

The bulk of the farming takes place close to waterbodies. It is perceived that run-off from the fields enter and pollute the streams and rivers. In the meantime, the authorities have promised to convene a meeting of farmers and officials from the Agricultural, Horticulture and Forest departments to thrash out a solution.

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Printable version | Apr 1, 2020 4:07:34 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/karnataka/farmers-demand-an-end-to-commercial-ginger-cultivation/article22321056.ece

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