In a good move, farmers of Periyapatna, Hunsur, KR Nagar have given up tobacco cultivation and have switched over for growing horticulture crops since last year. According to Horticulture officials, farmers in the region are cultivating Banana, Papaya, Rose, stretching across more than 150 acres of land where once tobacco was grown, a commercial crop in great demand.
Thanks to the persistent efforts of Horticulture Department who were to able to convince farmers to take up growing alternative crops in place of tobacco, under Comprehensive Horticulture Development programme.
While, some farmers have given up tobacco cultivation completely considering the health hazardous. Some are switching over after the imposition of ban by the Central Government which has set a target to reduce 50 per cent of tobacco cultivation by 2020.
Of the 33 villages coming under Saligrama Hobli in KR Nagar, five villages namely, Pashupathi, Mavanoor, Gummanahalli, Kedaga, and Shigavalu farmers have switched over up to 90 per cent for alternate crop Banana. Saligrama is spread over a geographical area of 1109.49 hectares of which dry land comprises of 308 hectares, where banana cultivation has been taken up in more than 35 acres. Even at Hunsur and Peiryapatna the farmers are growing papaya in 35-36 acres of land respectively.
Farmer Somegowda who has grown bananas said the margin of profit per acre of land is around Rs 2 lakh per annum which was not the case with tobacco. “Tobacco requires lot of investment and profit margins are less with just around Rs 50,000 to Rs 1 lakh per acre. It is also labour intensive right from nursing to marketing” he added.
KR Nagar Taluk Senior Assistant Director of Horticulture CT Krishnakumar said there is more willingness from farming community to switch over to alternative crops, considering the profit and subsidy provided under several schemes.
Hunsur Horticulture Senior Assistant Director Somaiah said by switching over to alternative crop farmers can avail benefits under various schemes such as RKVY (Rashtriya Krishi Vikas Yojana), NHM (National Horticulture Mission) and NREGA (National Rural Employment Guarantee Act). Anti-Tobaco Forum Vasanthkumar Mysoremath welcomed the move of farmers, but said still many of them are growing tobacco illegally and urged strict action against those farmers.