Facing debts, pomegranate growers seek loan waivers

Facing poor pomegranate yields because of a bacterial disease, over 9,000 growers from 13 districts have sought a waiver of their loans by the State government.

Speaking to reporters here on Thursday, R S Patil, president, Karnataka State Pomegranate Growers' Welfare Association said that growers have been demanding a waiver of their loans since 2008, but that the call has gone unanswered.

According to Patil, the government, along with bank officials, were responsible for first persuading farmers to grow pomegranate by highlighting the fruit’s profitability.

Based on these recommendation, growers discontinued their previous crops and began to grow pomegranate. “Many farmers have availed loans of nearly Rs 10 lakh and invested in pomegranate saplings,” he said.

Many growers discovered, however, that the pomegranate saplings had developed a bacterial blight disease. The discovery prompted the University of Agriculture Science, Dharwad and other institutes to recommend the immediate destruction of all affected plants.

“Since then, the farmers have been asking for a waiver, but instead the banks have started to file cases against the growers,” Patil said.

He added that many debt-ridden growers have lost their farms and are on the verge of suicide.

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