Coronavirus lockdown: After Karnataka farmers dump produce; govt decides to direct it towards needy

Darshan Devaiah BP

On Tuesday milkmen of Palabavi village near Chikkodi in Belagavi district threw around 1,500 litres of milk into an irrigation canal as they had no way to sell it during the COVID-19 lockdown. (File)

In the wake of milkmen in Karnataka's Belagavi throwing away an estimated 1,500 litres of milk due to COVID-19 lockdown, the state government has decided to purchase excess milk procured by the Karnataka Milk Federation (KMF) and distribute it free of cost to residents residing in slums and poor people through local municipal bodies from Thursday.

The state government has also decided to buy vegetables and fruits from farmers to avoid losses amid the coronavirus pandemic.

On Tuesday milkmen of Palabavi village near Chikkodi in Belagavi district threw around 1,500 litres of milk into an irrigation canal as they had no way to sell it during the COVID-19 lockdown. The milkmen seen in the video emptied around 50 cans of milk into the Ghataprabha canal.

For the last one week, farmers across the state are dumping their Agri products, since they can't transport to the market due to the lockdown. Recently several farmers of Bengaluru Rural, Chikkaballapur and Kolar districts dumped ready-to-harvest grapes into compost pits.

Farmers from Ganjam village of Srirangapattana, in Mandya district, dumped two tonnes of chikku (sapota) citing market shutdown and transportation due to the lockdown.

Kodihalli Chandrashekhar, president of the Karnataka Rajya Raitha Sangha, a farmers association said, “The lockdown has affected many farmers in the state. There is no transportation and no markets are open for the farmers to sell their produce. The most affected farmers are grapes, turmeric, watermelon and pineapple growers in the South Karnataka region.”

“The north Karnataka region farmers should start harvesting the rice this week, due to the non-availability of transportation it is not possible. These crops can not be kept for many days. It should be sold to customers, soon or else all the produce will be wasted and rotted,” he added.

On Monday, a 47-year-old Chandrakant Biradar, a watermelon farmer, in Bidar district in North Karnataka committed suicide after he was unable to send his watermelons to Kalaburagi or Latur in Maharashtra, where he used to sell his crop to wholesalers in the market.

After several complaints about the issues faced by the farmers. Yeddyurappa chaired a high-level meeting with Deputy CM Govind Karjol, Agriculture Minister BC Patil and senior officers to discuss problems faced by farmers on Wednesday and directed all Deputy Commissioners to procure vegetables, fruits from farmers and make necessary arrangements to sell in urban areas.