Farmers of Shahapura taluk in Yadgir district are reeling under a severe agrarian crisis. The scarcity of water is the primary reason behind their woes.
“Farmers rely upon rainfall heavily as water from canals, constructed specifically for the purpose of irrigation, fail to reach them on time. They suffered huge losses in 2018 as a result of water shortage. The farm crisis has compelled many farmers to take up other occupations. I earn Rs. 300-500 daily by driving an auto rickshaw,’’ said Abdul Mohammad, a farmer who left his profession and took up the job of an auto rickshaw driver.
The farming sector and community in Shahapur are in a shambles. It is becoming worse every harvesting season because of less rainfall and unavailability of any other major source of irrigation.
“I own 4 acres of land in the taluk. The water facilities here are abysmal. There is unavailability of cheap crop seeds. I often have to borrow money from moneylenders at abnormally high rates. My crop failed last year and I was in dire straits. However, I was lucky that I did not end up like other farmers. A few had taken loans from usurers and failed to return the debt. The moneylenders came down hard upon them. My creditor was a generous man. He let me go and asked me to return the money in small installments,’’ said Laxman Kumar, a Bt cotton farmer, who wanted to educate his 12-year-old son but could not because of his financial situation. His son, who should have been in school, is now helping him on the field.
Dayanand Satihal, Farm Superintendent, College of Agriculture, said: “Many a times a farmer fails to recover even the cost of cultivation. A farmer should have an assured income so that they do not have to migrate to other cities looking for employment or change their profession. The other important thing is planning. Farmers lack the understanding when it comes to the questions of which crop to grow and what is the appropriate crop for a particular piece of land. They do not keep documents of their lands.’’
The Upper Krishna Irrigation Project (UKIP) which was designed and launched by the Government of Karnataka to ensure that farmers receive sufficient water to irrigate their fields has failed in providing the same. Farmers are leaving the profession of their fathers and forefathers as a result of this. They are to moving to other activities in order to supplement their income.
Bhaskar Rao, an advocate who has dealt with the issues of farmers for a long time and written a book on the UKIP, said: “The UKIP is a huge project which has the capacity to provide irrigation to 25 lakh acres of farm land. Andhra Pradesh has been acting as a hindrance to the release of UKIP water to Karnataka. This is causing havoc to farming. Several farmers have committed suicide because their crop failed. This is a direct ramification of water shortage. A crop can grow only if it gets the required amount of water.’’