Untimely rains spoil farmers' new year cheer

Untimely rains spoil farmers' new year cheer

Areca spread for drying got drenched in rains at a house in Kunthoor village of Puttur taluk.

The farmers, specifically, areca and paddy growers in Sullia, Puttur, Belthangady and Bantwal taluks were in fact shocked when heavy rains lashed without a single indication on December 27. The rains continued to lash for three more days, that too during nights. The nights were really sleepless for the farmers.

Stormwater gushed into courtyards and paddy fields washing away huge quantities of aereca and paddy. Since everything happened during nights, people could not do anything to minimise the loss. “We had never dreamt that it would rain so heavily in winter. When areca spread on the courtyard for drying was being washed away in the midnight, we just stood helpless,” said Subrahmanya Bhat, an areca grower of Kunthoor village in Puttur taluk. The very fact of ‘rains in December’ itself was a strange phenomena for the farmers of the coastal districts. “I have never heard of heavy downpour in winter. Farmers will have to face their worst days in the coming year,” worried one Girija.

Interestingly, the rainy season did not end at all in 2009. May itself witnessed heavy rains and stormy winds which intensified in June, July and August. It rained heavily again in October which caused a series of problems for the horticultural crops. Rural areas continued to receive rains in November too.

“It was already late for the first phase of areca harvest (koilu) and we were waiting for rains to recede and the courtyards to dry. With all difficulties including severe shortage of labourers, we finished the first harvest in the first week of December. Now, the yield on the water-clogged courtyard is getting decayed. Even though we dry it further, it will not value much in the market,” explained one Eshwara Gowda of Kokkada village in Belthangady taluk.

According to B K Parameshwar Rao of Mittabagilu village near Charmady whose family grows over 60 varieties of paddy, the untimely rains have brought bad days for the paddy growers. “The rains and cloud accelerate the growth of high-yielding paddy varieties, which automatically bring down the yield. On the other hand, farmers who have already harvested are unable to process paddy and dry the hay. This will in turn affect the livestock too,” he noted.

Dakshina Kannada has a share of 25 per cent in the total areca production of the State. Areca is grown in 27,481 hactares in the district, while paddy is grown in 55,945 ha. The total area devoted for food grains is 59,463 ha. Fruits are grown in 36,463 ha, vegetable is gown in 2,974 ha and cashew is grown in 30,524 ha (as per the data maintained by the Statistics Department). The untimely rains are a major blow on these crops.

According to a study conducted by Dr Vighneshwar Varmudi, professor of Economics in Puttur Vivekananda College, the farming sector of DK has already experienced Rs 1,250 crore loss in 2009 due to rains and plant diseases. The figure will certainly go up with the arrival of the unexpected and the unwanted guest.

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