Bengaluru, April 14 : Hundreds of horticulture and floriculture farmers in Karnataka are reeling under heavy losses due to labour shortage, lack of transport and buyers, a senior Congress leader said on Monday.
“Though Chief Minister B.S. Yediyurappa claimed no farmer or grower would suffer due to lockdown, hundreds of them in the state are reeling under losses as their produce is perishing due to labour shortage, absence of transport and buyers at the market,” opposition party’s state unit President D.K. Shivakumar told IANS here.
Shivakumar visited several farms growing fruits, flowers and vegetables in Bengaluru Rural and Ramanagara districts to assess the damage the sudden lockdown has been causing since it was enforced on March 25 across the country to contain the coronavirus spread.
“Besides meeting the consumption needs of Bengaluru, the growers export their produce, especially flowers to Europe and the Gulf region. With flights also grounded, they are not only unable to send them, but see them perishing in their farms,” Shivakumar said.
The neighbouring districts are pocket boroughs of Shivakumar, who represents the Kanakapura assembly segment in Ramangara district, and his younger brother D.K. Suresh is the Lok Saba member from Bengaluru Rural constituency.
Although the Centre has allowed farmers/growers to carry on their activities, including harvesting and transporting their produce to the markets, suspension of public transport service during the lockdown has prevented them from getting labour to their fields.
Salubrious climate and availability of ground water or Cauvery river water makes farmers/growers produce a variety of flowers, fruits and vegetables through the year for domestic and export markets.
“The growers told me that no agriculture or extension officer visited them since the lockdown began to enquire about their plight. As the lockdown is likely to continue for 2 more weeks, at least in Bengaluru and Mysuru, which are Covid hotspots, the state government should rescue them from ruin, as flowers, fruits and vegetables are perishable,” Shivakumar demanded.
Clarifying that he was not politicising the issue as parties and people were united in its fight against the virus, he said as Yediyurappa was a son of a farmer and took oath as Chief Minister in the name of farmers, his priority should be the welfare of farmers and growers, who have no other means of earning income.
“The Chief Minister should rush his Agriculture and Horticulture Ministers to villages across the state along with officials to mitigate their hardship, as they are the worst victims of the crisis,” reiterated Shivakumar.
The state government should arrange farm labour, transport and support price to ensue the farmers/growers get remunerative price for their produce in the market, just as the services and industry sectors are given so many incentives and tax reliefs to sustain them, he added.