Karnataka will elect its new government on May 12, and all eyes are on the three-way battle between the incumbent Congress, Bharatiya Janata Party and the Janata Dal (Secular). With 60% of the state’s 28 million-strong workforce dependent on agriculture (according to the Institute for Social and Economic Change, a Bengaluru-based think tank), a significant part of the public electoral discourse has revolved around the subject of farm loan waivers. In the 15 years between 2001 and 2015, there were only three years (2005, 2007 and 2010) when large parts of the state were not drought hit. In fact, last year, the state faced its worst drought in 42 years. Making matters worse, the state was undergoing its fourth consecutive year of drought. With 70% of the State’s agriculture rainfed, this meant accumulating losses and growing debt for farmers and hence the demands for farm loan waivers. Making matters worse are the global price swings in agricultural commodities, resulting in loss of incomes. According to the State Agriculture Department, more than 3,500 farmers in Karnataka committed suicide between April 2013 and November 2017, of whom 2,525 were a result of drought and crop failure. Last year, the Siddaramaiah-led Congress government waived Rs 8,165 crore of farm loans from cooperative banks. The move, his government claims, would benefit 2.2 million farmers. In 2015, it also committed Rs 2000 per month as pension for the wives of farmers who commit suicide. This was an increase from the previous widow pension amount of Rs. 500. In the case suicide of a woman, a member of the family receives a pension of Rs. 2,000.
Cempadek, Durian, Mangosteen, Longan, Maprang, Jaboticaba, Pulasan, Santol and Abiu—these are names of some exotic fruits that are native to Southeast Asian countries like China, Malaysia, Thailand and Indonesia. However, you will find all these exotic fruits being cultivated across Homegrown Biotech’s 70-acre nursery, on the banks of the Manimalayar river in Vizhikkathod village, thanks to the dedicated efforts of three brothers who live in Kanjirappally, a town in the Kottayam district of Kerala. The brothers, Jose Jacob and Renny, and their cousin, Jojo Joseph, started this venture by cultivating rambutan across a 23-acre patch in 1996. In fact, Homegrown Biotech is now being touted as India’s first ever farm that has successfully grown and supplied the exotic, fleshy fruit across India.