Making 'hay' while the sun shines

Making 'hay' while the sun shines

Drought has forced farmers in N-K to buy cheap fodder at high price

The drought situation in north Karnataka(N-K) is so severe that grass and wheat grass that were otherwise left to rot in the fields are now in great demand as fodder for cattle.

DISTRESS: Farmers arrive at a cattle fair with tractor loads of fodder in Gadag. DH Photo

A tractor load of groundnut husk costs Rs 15,000, while the husk of gram costs Rs 5,500. A tractor load of wheat husk costs Rs 4,500. Similarly, a tractor full of jowar sticks costs Rs 5,000.

Farmers are having a harrowing time managing their cattle during the drought. Pushed to the brink, farmers can be spotted hopping from one cattle fair to another to buy fodder, in a bid to save their cattle.

The situation is so grim that people are ready to pay any amount to buy fodder. At times, the bargaining turns so desperate that farmers get into a verbal duel for a better deal from fellow farmers who sell fodder.

During summer, farmers come from Navalgund, Naragund, Koppal, Haveri, Dharwad and Annigeri to Gadag, which is well-known for its cattle fair, every Saturday.

Farmers from these places arrive with tractor loads of groundnut husk, wheat grass and jowar sticks to sell them as fodder.

“I have come to the Gadag cattle fair, as one of my neighbours told me that I can get good cattle fodder here. I bought a tractor load of jowar sticks for the first time, this week,” said Yellappa from Ibrahimpur.

Owing to shortage of fodder and drought, farmers are left with no alternative but to buy fodder at rates fixed by sellers, without bargaining. A tractor load of jowar sticks can cost as high as Rs 5,500, said Yellappa.

“Due to severe drought, the crops have failed. The only way to make some money in a situation like this is by selling fodder. Thus, I have come to the Gadag cattle fair to sell fodder. Earlier, grass could be plucked by hands.

But now, due to low moisture content, it is very hard to do so. Hence, we have to use the sickle,” said Kariyappa, a farmer from Annigeri.

Highlighting another problem was farmer Kotresha Menasinakai.

“Hay is being brought from Gangavati to tackle fodder shortage in the region. But our cattle refuse to feed on hay. We are forced to feed our cattle hay mixed with groundnut husk. Caring and managing cattle during drought is a Herculean task,” he said.

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