Decreasing crop yield, drought bane of agri sector in State

Fragmentation of landholdings, decreasing crop yield and drought are the major challenges to the agriculture sector in Karnataka, Chief Secretary S V Ranganath has said.

The average landholding has nosedived to 1.55 hectares in 2010-11 from 3.2 hectares in 1970-71. The need of the hour is a technology that can help farmers owning small landholdings survive comfortably, he said on Wednesday.

He said the crop yield in the State was far below the national average. 

For instance, the average yield of pulses is 454.40 kg per hectare against the national average of 624.35 kg per hectare. 

Karnataka’s average oilseed yield is 502 kg per hectare, whereas the national average is 1,000 kg per hectare. Hence, the thrust should be on increasing the crop yield, which will, in turn, raise the income of farmers, he said.

Ranganath was speaking at the Vidhana Soudha after releasing the Focus Paper on the occasion of a state credit seminar organised by the National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (NABARD).

The NABARD has pegged the credit flow potential of Rs 68,172 crore for the primary sector in 2013-14 fiscal year in the State, highlighting drought-proofing measures, farm productivity in dry land areas and bridging the yield gap as the focus areas to revive the ailing sector.

Of the total credit potential, the NABARD envisages a credit flow of Rs 44,210 crore to agriculture alone with an emphasis on term lending for potential sectors such as horticulture, water resources, dairy and fisheries development.

 About Rs 6,363 crore is estimated for the micro, small and medium enterprises. The estimated credit flow to the sector for 2013-14 is 31 per cent more compared with the current year, according to the NABARD’s Focus Paper 2013-14.

Fragmentation of landholdings, increasing drought-proneness of the State, stagnant net sown area, low capital formation in agriculture and poor price realisation have been cited as reasons for the declining contribution of the primary sector to the Gross State Domestic Product in the last few years (from 18.7 per cent in 2004-05 to 15 per cent in 2011-12). 

The Paper has been prepared under the theme “Critical rural infrastructure for agriculture and rural development.”

With two-thirds of the State under rainfed farming, the agriculture sector has become prone to drought. So, the Paper has recommended drought proofing through watershed approach, setting up of millet parks for value addition to coarse cereals economy and increasing subsidiary income through allied activities like dairy. 

It has also proposed a separate development strategy for North Karnataka, coastal/Malnad and southern regions. 

For the rural, non-farm sector, the Paper suggested empowering craftspersons and weavers in design development, technology adoption as well as ensuring support for both input supply and marketing. 

It has also prioritised last-mile projects such as canal network, horticulture model farms and nurseries.

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