Agriculture hit as cultivators chase urban pastures

According to census, there is a drop in the number of registered growers

Agriculture hit as cultivators chase urban pastures

Agriculture sector in the State has taken a massive hit with the number of cultivators registering a drop of 5.6 per cent, according to Karnataka Census 2011.

The reasons are not far to seek. Rapid, unabated urbanisation and skewed development priorities have led to the traditional cultivators chasing white-collar jobs in the City seeking better opportunities, besides high land value in the urban sector due to large-scale acquisition.

While currently the agriculture sector covers 64 per cent of the State geography, officials in the agriculture department fear that by the end of next financial year 2014-15, if large-scale drop in agriculture activity remains, it may result in further drop of the agriculture sector cover to 50 per cent.
 
A prime example of this shift from ‘primary’ sector to ‘tertiary’ sector is Bangalore Rural. With the growth of IT-BT sector in Bangalore Urban, over the past decade, cultivable land in rural district has fallen prey to largescale acquisition by the State government.

From making way for industrial parks to residential townships, booming land prices in Nelamangala, Devanahalli, Hoskote and Doddaballapur regions have uprooted traditional farmers from this region and made them shift to blue or white collared jobs in urban regions.

As per the recent data, the cultivable land in the district has gone down from an expanse of 1.60 lakh hectare in 2005 to 1.52 hectare in 2010, across the four taluks of Bangalore Rural district.

Skyrocketing land prices

The Census 2011 data further suggests that the drop in the number of cultivators has also gone down in the same region by a whopping 9.55 per cent.

The agriculture department states that the farming community may have been lured by the skyrocketing land prices as also on account of low water tables in the four taluks.
The Central Ground Water Board (CGWB) states that one of the prime reasons for water being scarce for cultivation in the rural district has been the mushrooming of borewells.

“We are seeing a huge mushrooming of borewells. As a result, water availability in the rural district is very low for farming activity,” said CGWB Regional Director (Karnataka and Goa) Dr Najeeb.

Even if borewells are sunk in the rural districts, after a year or two, they are worthless as, according to him, as more borewells are sunk less amount of water is available in nearby areas.

Apart from the Bangalore Rural district, the next biggest shift from cultivation to services sector has been seen in Mysore district.

According to census data, Mysore has seen no less than 9.26 per cent of cultivators moving out of the agriculture sector.

Nonetheless, officials are hopeful that the number of cultivators may increase in the North Karnataka region where irrigation projects have increased cultivable land available for food production.

There has been an increase of farmers in Raichur and Bijapur districts over the past few years.

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