Crops wiped out in Chitradurga, Tumakuru

After a major crop loss, a Myasabeda family in Buddanahatti village, Challakere taluk, Chitradurga, has decided to use the failed groundnut crop as fodder for the sheep being reared by them. Photo by Ashwini Y S

At 65 years of age, diseased and hapless, he had no will to live.

Unable to shoulder the mounting debt, B T Sanna Rudrappa, a mulberry grower, committed suicide and ended up being another statistic — like thousands of distressed farmers before him.

On September 29 his body was found by his family in the cattle shed. He leaves behind two sons, who are now weighed down by the debt of nearly Rs 7 lakh.

The dried up Vedavathi river near
Parashuramapura village in Challakere.
Photo by Y S Ashwini

In his death note, Rudrappa states that he was forced to take the extreme step as he had no means of repaying the loan.

“The crop failed for the tenth successive year. The borewell dried up, and I have no other source of income. I borrowed Rs 2.50 lakh from the Primary Land Development (PLD) bank, Rs 35,000 from B G Kere USSN and Rs 4 lakh from a private bank. As my medical bills are mounting, I am unable to even pay the interest. I have no option but to commit suicide,” states the letter.

DH Infographics

His son Santhosh Kumar is yet to come to terms with the tragedy. He told DH at his residence at B G Kere Mathiganahalli in Molkalmuru, Chitradurga district: “The government might pay us a compensation of Rs 5 lakh. It can however only bring us a brief respite. We own two pieces of fragmented uncultivable land. The crops will not thrive without the rains. I’m tempted to move to Bengaluru. But my children are young, and I don’t want to displace them.”

Kumar also said his father had shifted to cultivating mulberry from groundnut, hoping that the alternative crop might give him a better yield.

Jayamma of Ningehalli village near Madhugiri
in Tumakuru district seen dehusking the blight hit corn.
She will be using the stalks, leaves and ears
of the corn plant as fodder for her livestock. (Photo Ashwini YS)

Despite the continued drought, a few farmers like Rudrappa in Molkalmuru were experimenting with the cropping pattern. But a majority of them have stuck to sowing something they have always been familiar with — groundnut.

However, the crop has either failed completely owing to the blight disease or early stunting in a majority of the farmlands in Molkalmuru and Challakere taluks in Chitradurga and Pavagada and Madhugiri in Tumakuru district. As one goes around the district, one is witness to crop destruction on large tracts of land.

According to official data, while Chitradurga recorded 97% crop failure, more than 85% of the crops sown in Tumakuru district are destroyed owing to deficient rains.

Chitradurga district as a whole received 13% deficient rainfall during the southwest monsoon and 20% less rains during the northeast monsoon.

Tumakuru too received 16% deficient rainfall during the Southwest monsoon and 37% deficiency during the northeast monsoon.

Though the departure of rainfall does not seem abnormal, experts say that the total amount of rainfall received is inconsequential during the crop growing period.

G S Srinivas Reddy, director, Karnataka State Natural Disaster Monitoring Centre (KSNDMC) said that distribution of rainfall is more important than the amount of rainfall. “In Tumakuru, the distribution of rainfall, especially during the crop growing period has been skewed. As a result, there has been severe crop destruction,” he added.

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