It's raining woes for paddy cultivation in State

It's raining woes for paddy cultivation in State

It's raining woes for paddy cultivation in State

Paucity of rains and dried-up tanks have taken a heavy toll on cultivation of food grains, particular paddy, in Karnataka.

The government has instructed farmers across the State not to go for cultivation of water-intensive crops such as paddy and sugarcane.

Official sources said that in the current summer season, paddy was being sown in just 1.65 lakh hectares (ha) against the normal area of 3.01 lakh ha.

However, the coverage of sugarcane, a commercial crop, is relatively better. It is being cultivated in 0.28 lakh ha against the normal area of 0.36 lakh ha.

As many as 24 of the 30 districts did not get sufficient rainfall last year. None of the districts got excess rains while six districts received normal rains. As much as 68 per cent of the 3,524 minor irrigation tanks have low water levels, and no tank is full, according to the statistics available with the Disaster Management department.

Food grain production has been badly hit in the State due to successive droughts in the last two years. The contributions from the agriculture sector to the State GDP have also declined from 18.7 pc in 2004-05 to 15 pc in 2011-12, according an economic survey conducted by the government.

In the kharif season last year, the sown area was 62.88 lakh ha against the target of 74.70 lakh ha. In the rabi season, sowing could be taken up in 34.48 lakh ha against the target area of 38.67 lakh ha. In all, last year the State faced a rainfall deficit of 25 pc.

V S Prakash, Director, State Drought Monitoring Cell said that it was good that paddy cultivation was reducing in the State. “No water-intensive crop is suitable for Karnataka.

Next to Rajasthan, the State has vast arid zone in the country. Even the cultivation of sugarcane should come down. In the recent years, farmers are not protesting when the government advises them to desist from growing paddy. Farmers have realised that water is becoming scarce even in the irrigated areas,” he said.

The land use classification in the State indicates that the net sown area hovers around 54 pc and has almost remained stagnant.

It has remained so in the last one decade. Similarly, area sown more than once also hovers around 23 per cent, which indicates that the scope of bringing additional area under plough in the near future is very limited, thus suggesting the need for focusing on improving land and crop productivity.

The government has said that the drought condition would intensify in the coming days. A sum of Rs 450 crore will be spent on supplying drinking water and for taking care of livestock.
A circular has been issued by the government stating that water in reservoirs should be used only for drinking purpose.