Paddy farmers upbeat after good rain and the coming of added manpower

the hindu, 23-06-2020 21:14:10

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Paddy farmers upbeat after good rain and the coming of added manpower

Dakshina Kannada and Udupi hoping to bring vast fallow land under cultivation

In the time of COVID-19, the agriculture sector in undivided Dakshina Kannada has some reason to cheer.

Farmers as well as Agriculture Department officials are expecting that vast fallow land in Dakshina Kannada and Udupi districts, which had remained uncultivated for years, would be cultivated this year, not only because of the monsoon forecast but also due to the enthusiasm of those who have returned from other cities and States. Yet another reason is that farmers who had mostly remained indoors during the lockdown have prepared themselves for the oncoming kharif season. “We used to attend many weddings and other programmes otherwise during the summer. The lockdown thus helped us concentrate on our land,” said Shashidhar Shetty, a farmer from Dakshina Kannada.

The Agriculture Department, which had sold about 2,100 quintals of paddy seeds last kharif season in Udupi district culminating in the cultivation of about 35,000 hectares of land, has already sold over 2,500 quintals ahead of this year’s season. “We will surpass the target of 36,000 hectares this season,” department’s Joint Director in Udupi H. Kempe Gowda told The Hindu.

At the same time, the department is making all efforts to expand paddy cultivation in Dakshina Kannada where the cultivation area is normally less than in Udupi district. It is involving farmers, farmer service centres and organisations concerned to encourage farmers to cultivate paddy, said Joint Director in Dakshina Kannada M.C. Seetha. The district has set a target of about 10,500 hectares for paddy, and with enhanced efforts as well as through the participation of returnees, it is hopeful of expanding the cultivation area.

Since paddy cultivation in the coastal region is carried out on rain-fed land unlike in irrigated areas, hybrid varieties cannot be introduced here, Ms. Seetha said. “Farmers in the region grow paddy for local consumption — predominantly MO 4 variety used to produce boiled rice — than to cater to other regions,” Mr. Kempe Gowda said. The department supplies 18 varieties of paddy seeds to farmers, he added.

Paddy cultivation has mostly been mechanised, with tractors and power tillers replacing bullocks and buffaloes for ploughing.

Shivanand Poojari, a farmer in Maravanthe village of Udupi district, who was overseeing transplantation of paddy shoots on Saturday, said that farmers were upbeat with good rainfall and the presence of additional manpower in the form of returnees. Those who have returned to the district have addressed the shortage of manpower to some extent, he said and added that he expects very few fields to remain fallow this time.

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