At agri fair, flood-hit Karnataka farmers seek jobs

Bangalore, Nov 20 (Inditop.com) Frail and wrinkled Shivaswamy goes around the agri fair here – not to learn about the latest trends in farming but to tap people for a job. The 56-year-old farmer’s small field was destroyed in the Karnataka floods.

“I am jobless. My land has been destroyed and it will take months before I can till and sow in my land. I have come here to find an alternative job opportunity for myself,” Shivaswamy told Inditop at the ongoing four-day Krishi Mela.

The plight of Shivasamy, from Hatcholli village in Bellary district, about 400 km from here, is symbolic of the struggle that farmers are facing after the floods ravaged north Karnataka from Sep 30-Oct 2.

Bellary was among 18 of the state’s 29 districts worst hit by heavy rains and flash floods for three days in October this year, leaving over 200 people dead and destroying crops in about 2.5 million hectares.

Large tracts of land have become unfit for cultivation either because top soil has been washed away or it is heavily silted.

“I am ready to do any job for the time being, as I have to feed my four children and wife,” said Shivakumar.

Many farmers like him have turned up at the highly popular Krishi Mela that commenced Thursday at the sprawling campus of the University of Agricultural Sciences (UAS), Bangalore.

Echoing Shivakumar was Nandkumar, 34, a farmer from Hiremagi village in Hungund taluk in Bagalkot district, around 480 km from Bangalore.

“I cannot work in my field. I have become jobless. We are poor people, if there is no work, our children will die of hunger,” cried Nandkumar.

“After floods destroyed my crops and fields, I need a job to earn my livelihood. Otherwise who will take care of my children and wife?” asked farmer Hemantha from Amaragol village in Gadag district, around 500 km from Bangalore.

J. Balakrishna, assistant professor at UAS, said: “It’s a difficult time for the farmers of north Karnataka, with their crops and agricultural fields destroyed. Agricultural scientists and experts need to come up with a detailed mechanism to help farmers in distress.”

The agri fair is, of course, showcasing farming products and technologies.

R.S. Kulkarni, director of extension at UAS, said: “Mostly farmers from south Karnataka have participated in the event. The farmers’ meet is an effort to showcase recent developments in the farm sector, new crop varieties and research findings to help farmers and other stakeholders.

“More than 200 stalls have been set up to provide information to farmers on organic farming, hybrid cultivation, integrated cultivation, new modern technologies and equipment, bank loans, animal husbandry, horticulture and fishery,” added Kulkarni.