Farmers near Arkavathy river not keen on farming: study

Picture for representation

The farmers around Arkavathy river are no longer keen to take up agriculture, revealed a recent study by researchers of Ashoka Trust for Research in Ecology and the Environment (Atree).

The study titled 'Adapting or Chasing Water? Crop Choice and Farmers' Responses to Water Stress in Peri‐Urban Bangalore, India', shows that the dependence on farming as the prime source of income has come down. Consequently, farmers' reliance on the river has lessened.

Between 2012 and 216, researchers Vikram S Patil, Bejoy K Thomas, Sharatchandra Lele, Meghana Eswar and Veena Srinivasan chose 333 village households as the sample for the study.

According to Thomas, of all the households, only one of the family members continued farming, while the rest had shifted to alternative sources of income.

“We also found a change in the attitude and interest among the farmers. Since water was scarce, those closer to urban areas like in Doddaballapur, chose to cultivate water-intensive crops like vegetables, which are in large demand in Bengaluru," Thomas said.

"However, those in the outer areas chose other forms like planting eucalyptus, where less labour was needed, and the results were good after a few years. It was found that the inclination to undertake less labour intensive farming was on the rise,” he added.

The study came up with three main findings. First, the current "strategy" of responding to water stress was mainly by drilling deeper in search of groundwater. This is inequitable and largely adopted by larger, well-off farmers.

Secondly, the rainfed and partially irrigated farmers' predominant crop choice was eucalyptus plantations while the borewell-owning farmers chose water-intensive vegetables and horticultural crops.

Both of these choices raise questions about the long-term sustainability of water resources in the region.

Third, in spite of facing water scarcity and steadily declining groundwater tables, uptake of high-efficiency irrigation systems and drip technology among irrigated farmers is low.

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Farmers near Arkavathy river not keen on farming: study

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