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Potato Growers in Hassan losing hope of good returns as lack of rain results in poor germination

Grim situation: Potato Growers showing their crop near Shantigrama in Hassan District, Karnataka, India.

Within 30 days into potato cultivation this year, growers in Hassan, Karnataka are losing hope of good returns in their field.

With poor germination in vast areas coupled with early symptoms of late blight, a fungal infection, in some parts, the farmers are finding fault with the seeds provided to them.

The performance of certified seeds, specially procured by the Horticulture Department, is no better either. Most farmers in the district are dependent on this short-time crop (three-month) for quick money.

In the recent years, the income from potato fields had decreased substantially owing to late blight and decrease in rainfall.

All these years, poor quality uncertified seeds were blamed for the fungal infection. In the last two years, the Horticulture Department made special efforts to bring certified seeds and provided them for the select farmers. This year, 2,700 tonnes of certified seeds have been distributed in the district.

Jayalakshmi, a farmer at Markuli in Shantigrama hobli:

“The growth of the plant is below normal.”

“We are already noticing symptoms of late blight, where leaves get brown.”
The growth of the tuber is also not on the expected pace, pointed out Papanna, another grower.

Those who purchased the certified seeds have also noticed a similar trend in their fields.

Kottur Srinivas, district president of Karnataka Rajya Raitha Sangha:

“The farmers who spent thousands of rupees on seeds and fertilizers are worried about the loss.”

“Those purchased certified seeds have also experienced the same.”
The Horticulture Department has also noticed poor germination in some parts because of loss of rainfall.

A.B. Sanjay, Deputy Director of Horticulture:

“By and large, germination has been poor this year, because of a dip in rainfall. The department had sent teams of experts to study the causes for poor germination last week.”

“However, as of now, there are no symptoms of late blight as pointed out by some farmers. As the name itself suggests, the fungal infection is normally found only after 50 days.”
This year potato has been cultivated in 13,500 hectares. In some parts, growers have removed the potato, following poor germination, and have cultivated other crops.

A.B. Sanjay:

“We are suggesting them some alternative crops for those who have already lost hopes of good yield this year.”