Many tobacco farmers shifting to ginger cultivation in Mysuru 

#GS3 #Economy #Agriculture  

‘They are giving up tobacco in view of the remunerative market for ginger’ 

  • Staring at an uncertain export market and stung by declining earnings, many tobacco farmers in Mysuru have started finding ginger cultivation more lucrative.  
  • Several tobacco farmers took to ginger cultivation over the last two to three years and the numbers are expected to increase this year after the Tobacco Board, fearing a dip in global demand for tobacco on account of COVID-19, reduced the crop size from 100 million kg last year to 88 million kg.  
  • More than 80% of the superior Virginia Flue Cured (VFC) tobacco cultivated in Periyapatna, Hunsur, H.D. Kote, and K.R. Nagar taluks of Mysuru is exported to cigarette-manufacturing companies abroad, particularly to European countries, which are reeling under impact of COVID-19.  
  • The area under tobacco cultivation in Mysuru, which spread across 80,000 hectares two to three years ago, has now shrunk to around 65,000 hectares, with the growers opting for alternative crops like ginger and maize.   
  • Referring to the challenges before tobacco growers including the inability to sell about 2.5 to 3 million kg of tobacco grown last year after the auction platforms were abruptly closed due to the lockdown.  
  • Farmers are opting for ginger purely for economic reasons. In view of the remunerative market for ginger, they are giving up tobacco.  
  • The emergence of ginger as a commercially viable alternative to tobacco comes after years of campaign against tobacco cultivation by anti-tobacco crusaders.   
  • Even though ginger requires drip irrigation unlike tobacco, which can be grown in rain-fed areas, the monetary returns in ginger cultivation will more than make good the input expenditure incurred by the farmer.  
  • However, farmers will not be able to grow ginger again on the same soil for at least three years as it is considered a nutrient-exhaustive crop. They can grow crops such as ragi, jowar and even tobacco. Farmers, who own more than 7 acres, are growing ginger in a portion so that they can grow it in other parts later.  
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