Farmers find horticrops more attractive

Colours that please the eye: Farmers in Kolar district are moving towards horticultural crops, including vegetables like tomato and beans. DH photo

The incessant problem of water shortage in the district is drawing farmers from agriculture to horticulture.

Unlike agriculture that demands constant supply of water horticultural crops need far lesser water to thrive. The figures given by the Horticulture Department on the conditions between 2007 and 2010 only confirm this.

Untimely rainfall and agricultural labour are other problems influencing this shift.
Fruits, vegetables, garden crops, commercial flowers, medicinal plants, aromatic crops are the important kinds of horticultural crops in the district. Fruits are the most commonly and widely grown crops.

It is a noticeable feature that the area under fruit cultivation for the two seasons has increased by 2,000 acres.

The fact that fruits bring in a fixed income is also a major reason for the preference for fruits. In addition, the rate of fruits as well as horticulture crops has been increasing steadily.

Many farmers, who have the facility of borewells too, are going for horticultural crops.

Fruits preferred

Fruits were grown on an area of 46,220 hectares of land in 2007-08. In the next year, the area increased to 48,781 and in the last year 51,410 hectares of land was used to grow fruits. Thus, in the last three years, the total land used to grow fruits has increased by 5,190 hectares of land.

With regard to horticulture too there has been considerable increase in the land used for the crops.

In 2007-08, the farmers used 99,796 hectares of land, in 2008-09, it was 97,274 and in 2009-10, horticulture crops were grown on 1,03,581 hectares of land. There has been an increase of more than 3,785 hectares of land used to grow horticulture crops.

Famous for the mango crop, Srinivaspur taluk is the leader even in the new 'horticultural revolution'.

Between 2008 and 2009, there was an increase from 20,632.20 hectares to 21,548 hectares of land on which horticultural crops were grown in the taluk.

Produce hike

With an increase in the extent of land used for horticultural crops, the produce too has increased.

The produce of fruit increased from 5.69 tons in 2008 to 12.79 tons in 2009.

It is noticeable, however, that the cost of production too has hiked during the period. While the farmers spent a total of Rs 70.53 crore in 2008, they had to put in Rs 130.8 crore the next year.

The maximum expenditure registered was in Mulbagal taluk.

Little labour

After water, the most important factor forcing farmers to go for horticultural crops has been the lack of enough labour for agricultural activities.

Farmers themselves are moving towards non-agricultural jobs which are more paying.

Also, with the pay scale under Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme increasing, they are opting farming lesser and lesser. This has only strengthened the stand in favour of horticulture, which requires much lesser amount of physical labour as compared to agriculture, say Horticulture Department officers.

Ploughing, sowing the seeds, cutting the harvest, manuring and then waiting for the rain gods to shower mercy… agriculture involves a long series of efforts.

In contrast, horticulture requires the farmer to just sow the seeds or plant the saplings once. There is no need for much water or physical labour, making things much easier for the farmer.

All these factors seem to point at more and more farmers opting for horticulture over agriculture in the coming days, predicts assistant horticultural officer Shivareddy.

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