Some 15,000 farmers will be given high-quality; hybrid; disease resistant or less moisture-consuming seeds at subsidized rates, of up to 50 percent of their original cost, for two years. The first batch of seeds have been handed over to farmers, said M Prabhakar, principal scientist, Indian Institute of Horticultural Research (IIHR), which is also based in Bangalore.
The move – part of pan India ‘vegetable initiative for urban clusters’ scheme – will see IIHR supply seeds to farmer groups in Bangalore district and in the neighbouring districts including Bangalore Rural, Kolar, Ramnagaram and Chikkabalapur.
Karnataka declared drought in 142 taluks, or administrative units, last month, according to news reports. IIHR’s research on seeds that can survive in low moisture conditions could help fight food scarcity in the future, Prabhakar said.
IIHR can also assist growers with contingency crop planning, Prabhakar said. Delayed and scanty rainfall across Karnataka has shortened the duration of crop cycles. IIHR can assist farmers in taking to ‘short-duration crops’ which take lesser time to grow, he said.
“September to October is typically when the monsoon peaks for a second time in India and farmers can push short duration crops till mid-November,”Prabhakar said.
The ‘vegetable initiative’, part of a larger mission to improve agricultural practices in India, aims to develop highly productive vegetable clusters that supply quality vegetables to one city or town in every Indian state that has a population of one million and above.