‘Karavali package’ for paddy, a distant dream

‘Karavali package’ for paddy, a distant dream

Farmers in Dakshina Kannada and the Malnad region have been demanding a better package for paddy.

To check the dwindling of paddy in the coastal districts and to increase the area under cultivation, a Karavali package for paddy, on the model of Kerala package, was submitted to the state government in 2016.

Even after two years, the package is still a dream for the farmers of the region.

Farmers in the coastal district and Malnad have been demanding the package to promote paddy. As a result, the Agriculture Price Commission chairman Dr T N Prakash Kammardi sent a team of officials from Dakshina Kannada, Udupi, Shivamogga, Hassan, and Chikkamagaluru districts, along with farmer representatives, to Kerala to study the model and submit a report. Accordingly, the report recommended incentives for those who take up farming on paddy fields that have been left fallow and make available machinery for farming at the gram panchayat level.

Low yield

Speaking to DH, progressive farmer Prabhakar Mayya, who was a part of the team that had visited Kerala for the study said, “The Karavali package was for the farmers of coastal and Malnad districts. The major contention is that yield per acre in coastal and Malnad districts are less when compared to Plateau region. Here in DK, the paddy yield per acre is 16 to 20 quintal, while in places like Mandya, farmers get a yield of 30 to 40 quintal per acre. Hence, the plateau region has been left out of the purview of the Karavali package. Paddy cultivation should be brought under Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme to solve the problem of shortage of labourers.”

He said, “In Kerala, farm machinery is made available at the gram panchayat level. Here, custom hire service centres for agricultural machinery and farm implements are situated at the hobli level. Further, incentives are paid for those who cultivate paddy on fallow land. There is a sustainable development of the paddy-based farming system and macro-management of agricultural work plan in Kerala.”

‘MLAs silent’

Raitha Sangha and Hasiru Sene district unit organising secretary Manohar Shetty said, “The MLAs in DK district failed to raise their voices in the Assembly demanding the implementation of the Karavali package for paddy growers in the last two years. Will the newly formed Congress-JD(S) government do justice to the farmers in coastal and Malnad by implementing the proposal?”

To promote paddy, farmers should be given incentives and machinery should also be made available at the gram panchayat level. Each gram panchayat should have an agriculture officer, to guide the farmers and implement the schemes for them. The cash incentive from the government for those paddy growers who went for mechanised transplanting should be hiked from the present Rs 1,600 per acre.

‘Kerala package’

In fact, in 2011, the joint director of Agriculture in DK sent a proposal to the commissioner of Agriculture on the Kerala model package to Dakshina Kannada district, to check the shrinking area under paddy cultivation. Even then, the DC had also written about the proposal to the principal secretary, Department of Agriculture, on June 11, 2011. The Karnataka Development Programme (KDP) Review Committee, in 2011, resolved to urge the government to declare the ‘Kerala model package’ to the district.

The proposal recommended to the government to create a five-member group of farmers in each gram panchayat to promote paddy cultivation. In Kerala, the farmers are given between Rs 5,000 and Rs 20,000 per hectare as an incentive for taking up paddy cultivation.

The proposal tried to draw the attention of the government on four components in the Kerala model— they were in support for upland (rain-fed cultivation) rice production under the food security project; a scheme to cultivate paddy on fallow land by women’s groups; sustainable development of the paddy-based farming system; and macro-management of agricultural work plan.

Even the ‘Kerala package’ has remained in cold storage all these years.