Pink bollworm scare forces them to turn to red gram, bajra, chilli, and other alternative crops
Hit hard by pink bollworm pest that devastated standing Bt cotton crops on around 60,000 hectares in Raichur district in the last kharif season, many farmers are turning to red gram, bajra, chilli and other alternative crops. As a result, cotton growing areas are expected to shrink by about 35 per cent.
As per data provided by the Agriculture Department, cotton was grown on around 1 lakh hectares in the district in 2014-15 and 60,000 hectares in 2015-16. The area of cultivation is expected to further diminish to around 40,000 hectares in the next kharif season.
In fact, if the district receives early and good rainfall, an even larger number could switch from cotton to red gram and bajra, bringing the area of cotton cultivation down to less than 30,000 hectares, said Kiran Kumar, Joint Director of Agriculture.
Consequently, the area of red gram, bajra and chilli are expected to expand considerably. As per the estimates made by the Agriculture Department, the area of red gram cultivation is expected to expand from 40,000 hectares (last season) to 70,000-80,000 in the next season. Similarly, the area of bajra cultivation is also likely to expand from 35,000 hectares to 45,000 hectares. The area of horticulture crops such as chilli is also expected to double.
The Karnataka Rajya Raitha Sangha (KRRS) is also making a serious attempt to wean farmers away from Bt cotton crop. KRRS State president Chamarasa Malipatil had, in a press conference recently, openly given a call to farmers not to grow Bt cotton.
“The soil and weather conditions in Raichur district are ideal for both cotton and red gram cultivation. Farmers used to traditionally grow red gram. The pink bollworm threat has encouraged them to return to it again,” Mr. Malipatil told The Hindu .
Virupakshi, a farmer from Nelahal village, told The Hindu that he had got 14 quintal of poor quality cotton against the normal yield of about 100 quintal from five acres. “Now, I am planning to switch to red gram,” he said. Siddanagowda, another farmer from the same village, said he will cultivate chilli across all his 30 acres of land this season.
Farmers in Raichur district used to traditionally grow red gram.
The pink bollworm threat has encouraged them to return to it
Chamarasa Malipatil,KRRS State president