The decision to recommend drought in affected areas will be taken on September 4 when the cabinet sub-committee on drought-related issues meets while the extent of crop damage due to deficit rainfall will be known in the next 10 days.
“Karnataka is in a very bad situation now, as there has been deficit rainfall. Though sowing has been completed in 81% of the target area, farmers may not get the expected yield owing to the dry spell. The cabinet sub-committee meeting will decide on declaring drought-hit areas on September 4,” Agriculture Minister N. Cheluvarayaswamy told mediapersons in Bengaluru on August 31.
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Extent of deficit
Data provided by the government shows that as against the normal 660 mm rainfall expected between June 1 and August 30, Karnataka received 446 mm rainfall, which translates to a 26% deficit. In 29 districts, 70% deficit rainfall has been recorded in August, and rainfall has not been recorded for three consecutive weeks. As against the target of sowing 82.35 lakh hectares, Karnataka has achieved 66.68 lakh hectare, which is about 81% of the target.
In 2022, around the same time, sowing was done in 71.74 lakh hectares.
In Numbers: Water distress so far
Mr. Cheluvarayaswamy said that up to 150 taluks have witnessed a dry spell and soil has lost moisture. “The government is receiving ground-level reports from districts (August 31 was the deadline for submission of data). The guidelines laid down by the Centre and State will be considered before the decision to declare drought-hit areas is taken.”
On the extent of crop damage due to deficit rainfall, the Agriculture Minister said that the government has ordered ground truth verification, the report of which will be available in the next 10 days.
Mr. Cheluvarayaswamy pointed out that in the 36 notified crops eligible for insurance, 16.23 lakh farmers have registered, bringing crops in 15.31 lakh hectares under insurance cover.
During 2022-23, as many as 12.64 lakh farmers received compensation of ₹1,114 crore.
In previous years, 16 lakh farmers had registered during 2022-23, and 12 lakh farmers had registered in 2021-22.
This year, crop insurance registration has dropped compared to last year since the registration process started late and sowing was delayed due to lack of rainfall.
In 2023, in 194 villages in Bagalkot, Gadag, Tumakuru and Belagavi districts, either sowing has not been possible, or the shoots have dried up, affecting 35,209 farmers, who will receive crop insurance totalling about ₹35 crore.
The continued dry spell in Karnataka has led to reduction in offtake of seeds and fertilisers. According to statistics, though the normal demand for seeds is about 5.54 lakh quintal, so far 3.38 lakh quintal of seeds have been distributed. Current availability in RSKs is 80,000 quintal of seeds.
While the normal demand for fertilisers in the khariff season is 33.21 lakh metric tonnes, so far, 19.90 lakh metric tonnes have been sold. As much as 13.31 lakh metric tonnes is in godowns.