Farming a gloomy prospect in Kolar

 Depleting levels of ground water and a lack of irrigation lines have shrunk the cultivatable area of the district.

According to statistics released by the Agriculture department, the district has lost some 20,500 acres of arable land over a period of eight years.

Once capable of offering a good livelihood, agriculture has now turned into a money-losing venture for farmers. Going by information available at the Agriculture Department, as much as 1,22,500 hectares of land used to be sown during the monsoon period in the years 2003-04.

This area has now reduced to 1,02,000 hectares. While ragi was grown on 73,403 hectares during 2003-04, the rain-dependent crop is grown on only 63,000 hectares at the current time.

Paddy, which was once grown on tank beds over a decade ago, with two harvests each year, has become virtually non-existent with the drying up of the tanks. In addition, the district administration has recommended against providing crop insurance for paddy.

To survive, many farmers have moved to growing horticultural crops such as mango and vegetables.

Others have taken to growing eucalyptus. Consequently, mango groves and eucalyptus plantations are gradually replacing regular farms. Agriculture officers also pointed out that large polyhouses have started to emerge in places. Areas which contain mango increased to 53,209 hectares — up from 45,976 hectares in March 2011. However, vegetables are being grown in 36,084 hectares, down from 37,085 acres.

The decline could be attributed to the loss of ground water and the failure of borewells to supply water.

Sericulture has also suffered. Area supporting silk farming has fallen 19,013 hectares in 2006-07 to 13,615 hectares in 2011-12. The number of sericulturists have also declined to 23,908 from 30,942.

Dairy farming, however, remains strong. Hybrid cows which numbered 1,31,003 during the cattle census of 2003 have increased to 1,51,708 during the 2007 census.

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