Floods wash away hopes of farmers in Gulbarga

THE DAY AFTER: Farmers surveying the damage caused due to floods in one of the paddy fields at Shellagi in Surpur taluk of Gulbarga district.  

T.V. Sivanandan

It has been a bad year which started off with drought for farmers

Production of major kharif crops affected

Crop insurance has not helped farmers

GULBARGA: Floods and off season rains have ruined the prospects of farmers. The compensation announced for crop loss was too meagre.

According to a preliminary estimate, crops on 25 lakh hectares of land in the State were affected fully or partially in the floods and heavy rains and the production loss was expected to run into several billions of rupees and the compensation of Rs. 4,000 an hectare for the loss of crop in an irrigated area and Rs. 2,000 an hectare in the rain-fed area would not come anywhere near the actual loss suffered by farmers.

This year had been particularly bad for farmers. At first, cash crops such as blackgam and greemgram failed for lack of rainfall. When they completed sowing operations after the monsoon picked up in August and September, their hopes were dashed by the floods.

The major kharif crops which had suffered, according to the preliminary surveys conducted by the Agriculture Department, were the redgram, maize, bajra, paddy, sesamum, sunflower, groundnut and others in the flood and rain hit areas and the only hope now for farmers were the bengal gram, jowar, safflower and sunflower in the rabi season which could retrieve something.

According to the Karnataka Pranta Raitha Sangha president Maruti Manpade, farmers could come out of the present crisis and sustain the losses suffered by them if the Government paid a compensation of Rs. 10,000 an acre and provided generous loans for taking up sowing operations of the rabi crops immediately.

Mr. Manpade, who toured extensively in the affected areas in Raichur, Koppal, Gadag, Gulbarga, and Bellary, told The Hindu that farmers had suffered unimaginable loss and the compensation proposed to be given by the State Government as per the Calamity Relief Fund (CRF) norms was negligible and would not help farmers recover from the loss suffered by them.

He said the State Government and the Centre should work together to evolve a mechanism to enhance the compensation paid to farmers under the Calamity Relief Fund and they should present a strong case for increasing the compensation amount before the 13th Finance Commission, which fixed the quantum of assistance for different losses suffered by the people in natural calamities.

The crop insurance would not come in a big way to help farmers in distress this year since the coverage of the crop insurance in the State was very low.

According to Mr. Manpade, only one-third of the land holders in the State had been covered under the crop insurance.

Out of 79.45 lakh farmers having land holding only 23.75 lakh farmers who had availed crop loans automatically covered under the crop insurance scheme. “Even those who have been covered under the crop insurance scheme would not get the actual loss since the insurance company took into account the yield of the crop for the last five years for fixing the insurance amount for the current year”, Mr Manpade said.