The Bane of Excess

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Organic farming is an old practice. Many farmers in Byadgi are shifting to inorganic farming to get more and more yields. Annappa, a farmer in Byadgi taluk Karnataka, has been in agriculture for 15 years. His forefathers purchased 2.5 acres of farmland 54 years ago. In the past, his father used to grow chilli only. However, Annappa now grows Jowar, cabbage and cotton.  He uses around 10-15 bags of 50 kg chemical.

“I grow Jowar, cabbage and cotton. I spray chemicals on my field. I use at least 10-15 bags of chemicals on the cotton and cabbage crops. I use most amounts of chemicals in cabbage and cotton.” Says Annappa, a farmer in Byadgi. The cost of the pesticides is around 75 per cent of the total value which is spent in harvesting the crops.

DAP and NPK are few names of fertilisers which are used by farmers.  The farmers usually buy the private company manufactured fertiliser which has more dosage of chemicals. Government manufactured fertiliser is used less in the practice as they lack the number of chemical farmers wants to put in their farmlands.

“I have been using chemicals since 20-25 years. For growing cabbage, I use more than 5-6 bags DAP 50 kg each to get more yields. I have never used injections. I only use sprays.” Says Shambhu linga, another farmer in Byadgi.

The farmers prefer buying from private sellers than government shops because they say that they get a higher dosage of chemicals in a local private company fertiliser. The Fertilizer and pesticide shop owners say that they give the farmers whatever quantity the farmers ask.

Manjunath, a chemical shop owner, says that “I give whatever quantity the farmers want because to get more yields, they ask for more packets, and hence I provide it to them.”

The most amount of chemical is used on Cabbage. Dr Prabhudeva S.A., Assitant professor at Horticulture Research and Extension Station, Haveri says” The farmers are giving hormones through chemicals for the cabbage head so that in 2-3 days the head can look more beautiful. It all happens because of yield and harvest. Farmers want more yields with an early harvest.”

According to the Indian Journal of Dermatology, Contact dermatitis and Parthenium dermatitis are the most common skin diseases in India which affect the farmers. Ramesh V., a dermatologist at Taluk General Hospital, says that most of the farmers suffer from dermatitis because they work in fields under direct sunlight and also are around plants, these working conditions lead to dermatitis. The pesticide when sprayed is in the air; the farmers inhale them which makes them weak and susceptible to diseases.

Baswaraj FM, Agriculture officer of Byadgi, says “Pesticides and fertilisers are mostly used in cotton crops. After them, vegetable crops are targeted. Farmers who grow cabbage, spend around 70 per cent cost of cultivation on chemicals only. We recommend only two sprays, but they go for 6-8 sprays with a higher dosage which is more than using six bags. The tolerance level is then crossed.”


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