Kozhikode: Ginger farmers and head labourers from Wayanad are going to distant lands like Chhattisgarh in the quest for fertile land and better farming enviorns. Among the thousands of ginger farmers from the state now working in the leased land of Karnataka, over 200 have already started farming in the leased land in Chhattisgarh, over 2,500 km away.
The majority of farmers and key farm aides travel by air while the seeds and bunch of labourers follow soon by road.
Kerala Ginger Growers’ Association general secretary Navarang Mohanan told Deccan Chronicle that the shift in rainfall patterns in Karnataka, depleting levels of ground water, drying up of tube-wells, plummeting lease price for land and high wages had forced the farmers to go in search of greener pastures having fertile land, water availability and cheap labour. “Though the trend started last year with a few testing their luck in these parts of the country, including Orissa and Jharkhand, apart from...Kozhikode...Chhattisgarh, only this year more farmers joined," he added.
Ranjan Swami from Sulthan Bathery told DC that the nearest airport is at Raipur from where they have to travel another five hours by road to reach the remote village. Swami who continues his Karnataka leg of farming extended it to Chhattisgarh this year. "In Karnataka we are paying up to Rs 1 lakh per acre annually on lease fee while in Chhattisgarh it is just around Rs 8000. "The wages of Karnataka have almost trebled during the last five years which is around Rs 250 and Rs 400 for women and men respectively whereas in Chhattisgarh it is around Rs 100 and Rs 200," he added. "Even if we are paying Rs 60,000 for a 12-tonnes truck to transport ginger seeds to the farm from Karnataka, we hope it would be profitable considering the cheap cost of all other farming inputs," he added. "The climate is almost the same as in Wayanad but we were warned about recurring cloud bursts- driven torrential rains," he said.
"We also get a better price up to Rs 1,000 per a sack (60 kilograms) higher than what we get in Karnataka and Wayanad," he added. "This year we would incur a huge loss in farming if the prices do not improve. Now we are getting only Rs 1,000 per sack which is much lower than what we received last year," he added. "Earlier we were able to travel once in a while to home but being in Chhattisgarh means you are far away from your native land without connectivity," he said. "We have told our kith and kin that even if something serious happens back at home, it would be tough even to inform us as the mobile signals are weak and it would take many days to reach home," he added. "We have to either stop the ginger farming or challenge our fate and emerge as winners. We have decided to fight," he added.