Bengaluru: It’s a puzzle to many why farmers persist in growing sugarcane and paddy, which need plenty of water when the reservoirs of the state are drying up for want of rain. Going by Mr. Shivaramu, Senior Information Specialist, GKVK, which has its extension centre in Mandya ,there are multiple reasons for this. “Sugarcane and paddy don’t need a big labour force.This is important for farmers in Mandya, where there is an acute shortage of agricultural labourers. This is one of the reasons they opt for these crops,” he explains. Although efforts have been made to bring down the farmers’ dependence on Cauvery water by opting for the SRI method of paddy cultivation, which requires 30% to 40% less water, they continue to follow traditional methods of agriculture, he regrets. But the good news is some farmers of Maddur and Malavalli in Mandya district are now changing their cropping pattern according to the availability of water. "Corn is becoming popular in these areas, which is a welcome development,” he says. Mr. Krishnaprasad G, director of Sahaja Samruddi of Mysuru, believes multi- cropping and minor millet cultivation can resolve the water troubles of farmers of Karnataka and TN.
“Sugarcane and paddy farming have become a curse for farmers of this district,” he adds. Recalling that Mandya farmers followed dryland agriculture practices till the KRS dam was built and multi-cropping, including cultivation of finger millets, was high in the district at the time, he says farmers later turned to sugarcane and paddy only to land themselves in trouble. “The future of farmers of Mandya lies in minor millets farming,” he insists. But farmers say sugarcane and paddy, which have the highest MSP, remain an attractive option. “If the state and Centre make other crops profitable, we may opt for them. The large number of sugar factories ensures that there is no slide in the demand for sugarcane,” says Raghunandan G, a young farmer.