Drought, floods deal grain shock to Karnataka

Rice supply in Karnataka has slumped in 2019 due to floods and drought.

Rice production has slumped in the state due to the double whammy of drought and floods, with supply in Agriculture Produce Marketing Committee (APMC) markets down by 30% compared to last year.

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Soaring temperatures and drought conditions in north Karnataka had hit sowing of paddy, sorgham and other major crops during the rabi season. The incessant rain that came later has come as a new worry to the government.

Quoting initial assessment reports, officials in the agriculture department said about 5.2 lakh hectares of agriculture land was flooded. “The water is yet to recede from the fields. The sowing has come to a full stop in most of the 21 districts, especially in the ‘rice belt of Karnataka’. Those farmers who had completed the sowing in flood-hit areas believe they have lost the crop,” a senior official said.

As per data from the real-time dashboard (Kripa) that monitors the arrivals at 176 mandis of the APMC, there was a drop of more than 30% in the arrivals of paddy.

Traders are already dipping into their stocks to meet the needs of the public. A major part of paddy comes from Ballari, Raichur, Tumakuru besides Andhra Pradesh, areas which have been hit by floods. 

T N Prakash Kammaradi, Chairman of the Karnataka Agricultural Prices Commission, admitted that there may be drop in production. But more than consumers, farmers will be hit hard as money and hard work that went into sowing was wasted.

“Any hike in the rice price will not affect a major part of the population as it is covered by PDS scheme. On the other hand, we are worried about farmers, most of who could not venture to sow the rabi crop due to lack of storage in dams for irrigation. The little that was sown has been destroyed by floods,” he said.

Agriculture Department secretary Rajender Kumar Kataria said they have stocks to meet the demand. “Over the last 10 years, rice production has been static. If it goes down due to drought and flood, we have stocks to meet the shortfall. We will take steps necessary to avoid any crisis,” he added.

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