Roots of ginger cultivation run deep


Farmers find the influence of Malnad region good for ginger cultivation.

Ginger cultivation has become a major part of farming in Shikaripur taluk in Shimmoga district of Karnataka. Falling under the ‘Malnad’ region, there is heavy rainfall in the area, which results in high yield of ginger.

The growth of ginger requires high amount of pesticide use. Shikaripur witnesses 20-30 percent higher demand of pesticides as compared to neighbouring taluks like Soraba, Hosanagara and Sagara.

Yogesh, an accountant at Coramandal International fertilizers shop said, “Yearly, we have a turnover of Rs. 1 crore out of which total of 30 per cent profit is the sale from pesticides in and around the region. Reason of such high demand being cultivation of paddy and ginger in the area”, he added.

Raseed Saba, a local farmer in the village of Beguru buys the bottles of pesticides from Shikaripur and uses it in his field. The pesticides are being commonly used by the farmers. This has been an ongoing practice in the country given most of the farmers rely on the chemicals for immediate results.

In Shikaripur, migrant workers from Kerala come and cultivate ginger on contractual basis. Kaginalli and Hosuru are the two main villages in the taluk that have the most number of the migrant workers.

Suresh, a farmer in Kaginalli village has given out a part of his land to Kerala migrant workers for Shunti (ginger in Kannada) cultivation. On the other part of his land, he grows corn. “I do not know how to grow ginger so I have given them a part of my land to do so. The workers have come to grow ginger and leave after the 18th month. The contract agreement is from January to June by then they have to grow it and go.”

Many workers are found in Kaginalli, where certain areas are reserved for cultivation. After the cultivation of ginger is done, they sell it in the urban areas.

Babu Thomas, who heads the ginger sales and processing in Shikaripur, is from Kerala and into agriculture business from 30 years. Babu said that the land and labour in Western Ghats places like Shikaripur is suitable and makes it easy to grow ginger which is not the case in Kerala. He reasoned it by stating, “The reason why workers migrate here is because of the lack of land in Kerala and whatever land is available there, people build houses on them.”

A study conducted by Centre of Ecological Sciences (CES) and Indian Institute of Science (IISc) found that land in Malnad region have turned barren due to the use of chemicals, which also affects the biodiversity and contaminates soil and water.

Dr. TV Ramachandra, part of the group which conducted the study said heavy metals were found in soil and water, as well as the ginger. The soil and water specialist from IISC also mentioned that “Nowadays, people are coming up with rooftop harvesting for these kinds of crops. They can cultivate in urban areas.”

Dr. Prabhakar B.N., Assistant director of Agriculture department, Shikaripur said that the cultivation of ginger has resulted in huge increase in the number of bore wells in the taluk. He feels that the Kerala migrant workers look at the cultivation from the commercial point of view. The gingers sent for testing at residuals indicated more than the required level of contamination, he added.

There are also a few local farmers who grow ginger in the village. Satish G S from Gama is one of the local farmers in the taluk who cultivates ginger on his field as he finds the influence of the Malnad region good for cultivation which helps him sell the crop for good price.

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