University of Agricultural Sciences (UAS), Bengaluru, has devised an aggressive contingency plan for the farming community in Karnataka to tackle the drought situation in the state.
The plan, which has to be implemented by the state agriculture department, involves providing information on short duration crops and varieties that can be grown during the rest of the kharif season. These include drought-resistant crops such as ragi and minor millets.
"The drought is likely to bring the state's kharif food grain production down by at least 25 per cent. This would mean that the state's food grain production would fall by 25 lakh tonnes from the previous year's level of 125 lakh tonnes," stated Dr K Narayan Gowda, VC, UAS.
According to him, cereals, especially paddy, would be the worst hit as these would fall by 30-40 per cent. Paddy crop loss was estimated at half of the three lakh hectares in the Cauvery basin area of the state.
The production of pulses, which included red gram, groundnut and oilseeds were also to be impacted inevitably. At the moment, the latest weather forecast indicates that the state would receive normal rainfall for the rest of the month as well as for September which could bring in some cheer to the farming community. "In order to be prepared and face any eventuality of a drought, UAS has developed contingency crop plan for the 17 districts under its jurisdiction to help the farmers manage the agricultural operations given the deficient rainfall," observed the UAS VC.
UAS is also informing the farming community to enroll in weather-linked crop insurance schemes to be on the safer side. Dr Gowda also asked the farmers to refrain from the cultivation of long duration and water-intensive crops.
The contingency plan also has provision for worst case scenarios if the monsoon completely fails. According to Shivanna, research director, UAS, in such a scenario, the state should focus on producing seeds to be sown in the next rabi season in the areas which are experiencing parched land like situations.