The season is late; In Karnataka, farmers are buying tanker water at double the price

Paddy farmers in Balagavi taluk of Karnataka are in distress after 15 days delay in arrival of monsoon. Farmers are buying water from private suppliers to protect their crops. Private water suppliers are overcharging farmers as groundwater levels continue to fall. Where earlier a tank of 2000 liters of water was paid Rs 500, now we have to pay Rs 1,000. The southern part of Balagavi taluk is dominated by paddy cultivation. There is also vegetable cultivation in some parts. Farmers of Angol, Vadagavi, Sulaga, Yellur, Damane, Majagavi and neighboring villages cultivate varieties like Basmati, Sairam, Subhangi and Sonamasuri.

Mahadev Balekundri, a farmer of Damane village, owns four acres of land and sowed paddy four days ago. Seedlings are growing now and need water to keep them from drying out. To save the crop, water is now bought at double the price. One tanker of water is enough for one acre of land. At this stage, the paddy plants need water and the same amount of water should be given every four days until they reach about two feet in height. Otherwise we risk losing the crop,” he explained.

Another expressed disappointment at the delay in the rainy season. Hoping for timely rains, the paddy farmers prepared the field and started cultivation. He said, “Due to the use of tanker water, the cost of production has increased and if the rains are delayed further, this will increase further.” Farmers will have to buy more water until the paddy crop reaches a certain point. Balekundri explained that paddy requires more water than other crops and needs water for about 15 to 20 days in the middle phase. “We are hoping for early rains and have started planting again. Let’s see what happens. “Farmers never lose hope,” he said.

According to Shekhar, a water supplier, the ground water level has gone down. He also attributed this to lack of rainfall and increasing number of borewells in the area. It now takes about two hours to fill a 2000-litre tanker, while earlier it took only 30 to 40 minutes. “We had to raise prices to cover electricity and fuel charges,” he reasoned.

Kongwad, in-charge deputy director of agriculture department, said that only 30% of the expected cultivation has taken place in Belagavi district. Farmers who have their own water sources are cultivating and selling water to neighboring farmers. As all the rivers in North Karnataka have dried up, only 25% of the area is under cultivation as against 70% last year. Dry crops are prone to scorching if not regularly watered.

Meanwhile, Maharashtra’s largest reservoir with a capacity of 105 tmcf has only 11.54 tmcf of water till Monday. In April and May, Maharashtra released 4 tmcf of water to Karnataka in two installments, in return Karnataka released 2 tmcf of water from Narayanpur reservoir to Maharashtra.

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Weather Journalist at Graduated in English from Calicut University, and holds a Diploma in Electronics and Communication from Thiruvananthapuram Press Club and master of communication and journalism (MCJ) from Bharatiyar University with 6 years of experience in print and online media.

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