Scanty rainfall, depleting groundwater levels, insufficient power supply make it difficult for Shiggaon farmers to maximize their productivity.
The moment one enters Shiggaon taluk in Haveri district, North Karnataka, the variety of crops they see along the highway is Bt-cotton, Maize and Paddy. . Shiggaon taluk has a total of 92 villages, 25 gram panchayats and 2 municipal councils.
2011 Census India indicates that the total population of Shiggaon is 1, 87,910. The main occupation of people living in Shiggaon, similar to most of rural India, is agriculture. Almost all 40,000 farmers here rely on income from farming for their daily bread.
The crops grown in Shiggaon can be broadly classified into cash crops and food crops. Food crops include cereals like jowar, maize and paddy. While Bt-Cotton, chilli and ground nut are a few cash crops. Of late, Soya Bean too has found a space in their farm lands.
Farmers in Shiggaon have suffered major crop loss in the past three years mainly because of scanty rainfall taking a toll on their livelihood.
Santosh Hubali, aged 30, is a farmer based out of Bankapur village who was working in his farm on a hot summer afternoon when we met him. He supports a family of eight of which two are toddlers. On his 20 acres of land, he grows soya bean, jowar and maize crops.
Scanty rainfall has hit him hard. His crop yield has reduced to half of what it used to be when rainfall levels were normal.
During normal rainfall, Santosh yielded ten quintals of jowhar while recently it has reduced to five quintals. Similarly, the maize yield earlier was fifteen quintals and now the yield is around six quintals. Most of his Soya Bean plantation was damaged because of scanty or untimely rain.
Santosh’s income has fallen below what his eight member family needs to survive. His annual income has fallen from two lakhs per annum to one lakh per annum, making life very difficult for the family.
Labour too has become a luxury factor for him. A daily wage amounting to Rs 200 for a woman labour and Rs 250 for a male labour is a costly affair.
Adding to his misery, from the past two years he has not received the insurance claim which was filed with Madhyanchal Gramin Bank.
Here are the contributing factors for crop loss and a detailed analysis of the same.
Rainfall creating havoc for farmers in Shiggaon:
According to the agricultural officer in Shiggaon, farming in Shiggaon is mainly dependent on rainfall. Out of the total 40,000 hectares, 30,000 hectares of land is considered dry land while the remaining 10,000 hectares of land is irrigated land.
The total expected rainfall for the whole of 2017 was 837cm but the taluk received only 579cm of rainfall.
Table 1.1: As per the Department of Agriculture Shiggaon, the rainfall data (2017)
|Month||Count [Predicted](cm)||Rainfall [Actual](cm)|
*Till April’17- August’17 the rainfall was very less. However, while in September’17 due to cloud seeding there was excess of rainfall. The cloud seeding process began towards the tail end of August. Hence, the drastic increase in September.
Weatherquestions.com explains cloud seeding as an experiment that is mostly performed on the clouds that have potential for precipitation to take place. In this process silver iodide aerosols are spread over the upper part of the clouds through aeroplanes, and then the restorative process is initiated, finally, the precipitation process triggers and then it rains.
The Hindu reported that cloud seeding project was successfully taken up in Dharwad, Shiggaon and Haveri on September 3, 2017. According to officials, Department of Information and Public Relations, the cloud seeding project that took place in Shiggaon and Haveri was successful during the month of September, 2017.
In Shiggaon most of the crops that are grown are Kharif crops and they require lot of water and hot weather for their growth during the sowing period (June-July).
However, the crops have not received sufficient rainfall during that period. While on the other side due to cloud seeding project there was excessive rainfall during the harvesting period (September- October) which has harmed the crops yield. There has always been an imbalance in the amount of rainfall, too much proved to be too bad, too less resulted in crops dying.
Dr. Nagangouda Reddy, (Assistant Director Agriculture), explained, “This is the third year that the rainfall is not normal due to which farmers are facing losses as their crops are getting damaged. There is major issue of water in the month of May and April as the groundwater level goes down because summer starts. The government has done cloud seeding project also which was successful as the rain happened in Shiggaon but the project was not beneficial for the farmers as it led to excess of rainfall.”
Maruti Basvannapa works in his farm land with his family members. He suffered a major crop loss of jowar and Bt-Cotton due to improper rainfall.
He said, “Earlier the yield of jowar was eight to ten quintals and now it is five quintals. While Bt-cotton crop yield was ten quintals and now it is four quintals.”
Sprinklers and bore-wells in vain:
Both the above mentioned options are good alternatives when the amount of rainfall is not sufficient.
The bore-well and sprinklers that are made for the benefit of the farmers are not helping as there is less ground water and insufficient supply of electricity makes it difficult to use these methods.
To set up sprinklers and bore well, one needs a lot of money and if in case there is any mechanical failure, they add to their overhead costs.
Mohammad Rafi, a farmer, who owns eleven acres of land in Sheelvant Somapur said, “In my land I have been growing paddy, maize, mangoes and coconuts for the past fifteen years. The total produce from past three years has lowered. I have sprinklers and borewells in my farm but they are not benefiting me. This is because the ground water level is very low and the irregular electricity supply is another problem.”
He had taken a loan of Rs 2 lakhs from Canara Bank to procure all the machinery, including generators. However, they have just added to his initial outlay of costs without reaping many benefits.
Majority of the villages in Shiggaon do not have enough electricity supply for bore-wells to pump water. However, if there is electricity also, the ever decreasing ground water levels add to the reasons of failure.
He added, “The money spent on the generator has gone down the drain. At the end of the day, the money I earn is spent on its maintenance only.”
Preetika Gowda, Assistant Executive Engineer, Hubli Electricity Supply Company ltd, said “In Shiggaon, there is 6 hours of power supply in which there is supply for three hours during the day and three hours during the night.”
SH Naikar, Chief Officer, Shiggaon, water supply board, stated, “The ground water level is currently around 30,050 ft. Earlier the taluk was getting water from Naganur Kere which is 1.5 km away from Shiggaon, . Nowadays, because of irregular rain, 1.60 acre foot of water is lifted from Vardha River which is 2.8 km away from Shiggaon. There is one treatment plant near Naganur Kere Lake which supplies 85 litres per capita per day from the lake to the tank and there is no sufficient water in bore well when you start pumping.”
Crop Insurance claims still stand due:
Most of the farmers who had insured their crops still await their settlement. Anagha P. Nair Agricultural Executive officer, Canara Bank, said, “There is an online portal called ‘Sameeksha’ where we put all the information about the farmer and how much land he owns and what kind of crops he grows. Considering all these factors the premium amount is arrived at that time. From the past few years the farmers have not received their crop insurance amounts. As from the government, insured amount has not been released.”
Santosh Hubali, farmer from Bannur village, said, “Government has not helped me at all during crop failure. I have insured my crop but the claim amount still stands due.”
Shambu Linga Dharma Harkuni, farmer from Sheelvant Somapur village, said, “I was informed about crop insurance from my friends as my crops were getting damaged but at the end of the day crop insurance is also not helping me, as I haven’t received the insurance money of my crops back.”
Dr. Nagangouda Reddy, Assistant Director Agriculture, said, “We provide them subsidy on all products like sprinklers and seeds. We witnessed an increase in the number cases where crops were getting damaged so we started campaigning for crop insurance across villages. 25-30 per cent of the farmers in Shiggaon have opted for crop insurance. Farmers who have their crops insured and have filed for claims for the insurance money still have pending amounts from 2016-17. For 2017-18 there is no declaration for kharif crops by the insurance companies.”
Virendra Deshmukh, State Bank of India Bank, said “Depending on the degree of crop loss, insurance companies decide the claim amount. Claim amounts for 2016 have not been released yet. Claims of only paddy crop has been released, other crops like Bt-Cotton etc have not been released.”
Shobha H B stated, Deputy Director, Crop Insurance Department, Department of Agriculture Karnataka said, “Most of the claims have been initiated from our end, the insurance companies have to process it further.”
Table 1.2: Details of enrolment and claims settle under PMBY in Shiggaon Taluk.
(Source: Crop Insurance Department, Department of Agriculture, Karnataka)
|Season||Kharif 2014-15||Rabi 2014-15||Kharif 2015-16||Rabi 2015-16||Kharif 2016-17||Rabi 2016-17||Kharif 2017-18||Rabi-2017-18|
|No. Of farmers enrolled||13587||1||4960||85||*9610||411||11225||375|
|Total Claim (Rs)||109.16811||0||864.3609||6.44861||2548.057||Claim not paid||Claim not paid||Claim not paid|
|No.of claims settled||1218||0||4202||84||*11519||Claim not paid||Claim not paid||Claim not paid|
*Note: A single farmer may file insurance claims for multiple crops, may be with different survey numbers. Hence difference in number of farmers enrolled and number of claims settles.
Farmers not able to repay loans:
Farmers have taken loans from private banks as well as government banks. With this money they buy equipment, tractors, bulls, pesticides, fertilizers, sprinklers and bore wells depending on the amount of loan.
Most of the farmers are unable to repay the loans on time as their crop yield is not proper.
Bankers mostly provide loans to those who have accounts with their banks, so if a problem arises in the future they make sure the amount is recovered.
Inability to pay back the loan amounts drives farmers to commit suicide.
Badshah Sahib Halegi, a farmer from Tadas, said, “I have taken a loan of Rs 1 lakh from MG Bank and I am not able to repay it as my crop yield is not proper for me to sell it further in the market. Moreover now I am looking for part time work as a labour too, that way I will be able to repay my loan. Many farmers, who have taken a loan and are not able to repay the amount, resort to committing suicide. From the past three years I get to hear about the increasing number of suicides from the villagers.”
Asmad H, Head Constable of Shiggaon, said, “Most of the farmer suicides are because the farmers are not able to repay the loans that they had taken from banks. Finally, they hang themselves on trees in their farms else they drink pesticides.”
Dr. Nagangouda Reddy, Assistant Director Agriculture, said that they have taken up measures like rain water harvesting to tackle water scarcity. There are schemes like Krishi Bhagya Yojana in which there are 500 farm ponds have been made, and the total cash outlay stands at Rs 1,50, 000.
Kshitij Urs, an Environmentalist, said, “Farmers cannot be abandoned if their crops fail, that is their main source of income. The genetically modified crops are not a choice for them, crops like Bt cotton was pushed on the farmers by the Government. This is mainly because Bt cotton is drought and pest resistant. Now after having forced the farmers into this, it is the Government’s responsibility to compensate for these losses. This is only a short term relief strategy.”
“In the long run we need to modify the way we carry out agriculture. It is called a culture for a reason, for long term sustainability. Mono cropping is very old school, the Government should roll out better options that are more remunerative. Rainwater harvesting is taking shape but it cannot be looked as a standalone entity. Trees should be concentrated on, they help in water retention. The farm should be so densely populated with trees that there is no water that leaks out at all. The farmers are not aware of the schemes that the Government provides as relief measures. This is the major loophole, if they are not aware of the insurance schemes,” he added.