State's agricultural production takes a severe beating due to drought

State's agricultural production takes a severe beating due to drought

State's agricultural production takes a severe beating due to drought

 Agriculture production, particularly food production, has fallen sharply in the state due to extensive damage to both kharif and rabi crops caused by acute drought in 2015-16. This could affect food security in the days to come.

According to advanced estimates of the Agriculture Department for 2015-16 and final estimates of the Department of Economics and Statistics for 2014-15, the total food grain production for the current year is 110 lakh tonnes as against 126.22 lakh tonnes in 2014-15.

Production of cereals in the current year is 97.5 lakh tonnes as against 112.32 lakh tonnes last year, a negative growth of 0.13%. Similarly, the state registered a 0.1% negative growth in pulses with production falling from 13.9 lakh tonnes in 2014-15 to 12.5 lakh tonnes in 2015-16.

Production of oil seeds stagnated at 9.6 lakh tonnes while cotton production has seen the sharpest drop of 0.39%. Production of cotton in 2014-15 was 23.11 lakh bales against 14.04 lakh bales in 2015-16. Sugarcane production also fell sharply from 437.76 lakh tonnes to 405 lakh tonnes, registering 0.07% negative growth.

The drop in production is attributed to decline in the area of coverage and drought in major parts of the state with north interior Karnataka badly affected due to huge rain deficit. Failure of rains and long dry spells in July, August and the first half of September affected kharif crops on 33.10 lakh hectares. Rabi crops on 24.61 lakh ha also suffered due to deficit/scanty rains and long dry spells during October, November and December in the northern districts.

This meant a very large area of 57.71 lakh ha of both kharif and rabi crops was affected, dealing a severe blow to agriculture production. During the south west monsoon, rainfall from June to September was 652.5 mm as against the normal of 838.7 mm resulting in a deficit of 22% and during the north east monsoon cumulative rainfall from October to December was 178 mm. Though the deficit for the state was only 5%, the deficit was 55% in north Karnataka districts, which account for 90% of the total area under rabi in the state.

The low water storage in most reservoirs and minor irrigation tanks along with depleted ground water table due to poor rain, are likely to affect summer crop production also, according to the Economic Survey of Karnataka 2015-16.

Experts feel the situation may improve if there is copious rain in the ensuing south west and north east monsoon in 2016. Otherwise, the situation may take a turn for the worse for agriculture, drinking water and power generation, they say.

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