Kalaburagi: A good Samaritan can comes in many guises. For farmers of Kalaburagi, burdened with the drought and debt, it is well known educationist, Basavaraj Diggavi, who has proved to be a godsend as he has saved hundreds of their cattle from being sold off to slaughter-houses in the absence of fodder, and helped them do farming this season. Had he not arrived in the nick of time, the only alternative for many despairing farmers, staring at financial ruin, would have been suicide.
Struggling with an acute shortage of fodder on account of the drought, the farmers had all but lost hope when the Nandi Vana Goshala, a special shelter for cattle, established by the Sharanamma Diggavi Memorial Trust in Harthihadagil village on the outskirts of the city, came to their rescue and stopped them from resorting to distress sale of their livestock.
“Even healthy cattle were being taken to slaughter-houses due to shortage of fodder and water. If we had allowed the situation to continue, it would have led to a severe agrarian crisis in future. I’m very happy that I have been able to come to the rescue of farmers in their time of distress,” said the philanthropist feelingly.
His actions have not gone unnoticed. Observed a senior professor of agro-economy at the University of Agricultural Sciences here,“By taking care of their cattle when the farmers were resorting to distress sale, Mr Diggavi has given them a rebirth. Without such timely help they would have been pushed to the brink of suicide.”
Nandi Vana, which took off on November 23, 2015 with 50 pairs of bullocks, turned 200 days old on June 10. But even in its second week it had offered shelter to 2,100 bullocks and provided food and shelter to the nearly 800 farmers, who owned them. “On an average 1700 to 1800 cattle are taken care of here on any given day at a cost of about Rs one lakh,” Mr Diggavi explained.
As each cattle is fed an average of 3 kgs of dry fodder every day, the shelter came up with the brainwave of using the sugarcane grown on 500 acres by farmers in the vicinity to feed them. “This way we also helped the sugarcane growers,” noted Mr Diggavi. With water in short supply at the shelter, around 80,000 litres of water is brought to it from a borewell in the city.
The district administration too has chipped in by providing veterinary services and 24-hour power supply free of cost to the shelter. But more than the material support, Mr Diggavi is happy about the moral support he has received from it. “I was very worried how this would work when I first thought about starting the shelter. But Deputy Commissioner Vipul Bansal helped in a big way by giving me the moral support I needed at the time,” he added feelingly.
Interestingly, the help given to the farmers at the shelter goes beyond merely taking care of their cattle. “As we wanted to make best use of the farmers' stay here, we give them training them in agriculture, horticulture and dairying and have also conducted a free eye camp besides helping 50 farmers get eye surgeries done. Major surgeries were performed as well on six farmers free of cost with the help of local doctors,” Mr Diggavi revealed.
Besides giving him the opportunity to help the farmers, he says the shelter has given him valuable insight into their real problems and he now intends to do something about them. “I don’t want to end this here. I want to take things forward and find a permanent solution to the problems dogging farmers, at least in my area, to begin with,” he emphasized.
While he had toyed with the idea of converting the salubrious Nandi Vana, which has about 2,500 trees on campus , into a health resort when it had done its job, his tryst with the farmers has caused him to change his mind. He now intends to set up a Raithara Hitha Rakshana Vedike on its campus to address the problems of farmers and train rural youth not just in farming but also other relevant fields like marketing.
If the farmers' prayers have not been answered for years, it does seem that someone is finally listening to them as their good Samaritan appears to have arrived allowing them to look forward at last to an alleviation of their troubles....