Bangalore: With a rainfall deficit of nearly 70 per cent, production has dipped to an all time low and fodder is likely to last for only another ten weeks. CNN-IBN travels to Union Minister Veerappa Moily's constituency Chikkaballpur to take stock of the situation.
68-year-old Baajisaab says he doesn't remember seeing such a bad monsoon in decades. His 6 acres in Bagepalli in Chikkaballapur district are set to yield nothing. Across Karnataka, the kharif crop this year has covered barely 28 lakh hectares, against the usual 72 lakh hectares.
"This year, we've got nothing, not even ten per cent seeding has taken place. We've readied our lands and all we do is look up to the rain-gods and wait,” Baajisaab says.
You'd usually see crops as varied as tur dal, pulses, groundnuts, jowar and vegetables in this area by this time but the monsoon this year has proved a never-ending waiting game for farmers whose patience is wearing out.
Along the highway, you'll come across many farm labourers taking to wage work under national employment schemes. Work that's inevitable when there are no farm jobs, and no fodder for their cattle. Fodder scarcity is one of the biggest issues. Fodder is likely to last for only another ten weeks. In neighbouring Pavagada, many cows have even died of hunger over the last week.
Shivappa, farm labourer, says, "With this kind of coolie work, we're able to earn something for ourselves as well as use the shrubs we cut for our cattle."
Cloudy weather in many regions over the last two months has brought hope of rains almost everyday. Many farmers have readied their land for sowing time and again, only to be disappointed. The Chitravati dam that feeds 128 villages with drinking water now has more weeds than water.
T Lakshminarayana Reddy, Bagepalli taluk president, Karnataka Rajya Raitha Sangha, says “Even if it rains now, it's of no use. It's too late for tur, too late for ragi, too late for groundnuts. If we do get rains, all we can grow now is grass for our cattle, nothing more.”
The Government has now announced a farm loan waiver package of nearly Rs 3,500 crores.
Though Central teams have twice visited the state twice in 3 months, not much has changed on the ground in Bagepalli.