Agriculture in Karnataka Part-1

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Agriculture was known to the Neolithic man in Karnataka. Excavations in the Tekkalakoote region in the Ballari district have yielded remains of horse gram and wheat grain from the sixteenth century. Kannada literature has several references to agriculture, such as Shri Vijaya’s KaviraajaMaarga, a text belonging to the ninth century, has allusions to rice, black pepper, and sugarcane. The poetry of Pampa, the first Kannada poet of the tenth century, alludes to several flowers and fruits. Basavanna, the great social reformer of the twelfth century, has used the expression, “joolaavali” in his vachanas or poems, which means “obligation of a master who provides food”. The great Dasa poet of the fifteenth century, Kanakadaasa, in his poetry, RaamadhaanyaCaritre, used rice and ragi as principal characters. In 1879, SiddharaamappaKunnaala, wrote krushiJnaanaPradiipike, which was a full-scale work on agriculture in Karnataka. Agriculture may be broadly classified into three types. The first type is completely dependent on the rain and is known as khuskior dryland cultivation. Ancient works refer to khushki land as devamaatruka, because the cultivation depends on the rains which are a gift of God. The second type of cultivation depends on water yielded by wells, tanks, and rivers. This is known as Tari or wetland cultivation. The land used for this is called gadde or tari land. Ancient works refer to such lands as nadimaatruka, as they are irrigated by river water. The third type of cultivation has a continuous flow of water through perennial sources. Here, plantation crops are generally grown. The land used for this is called baagaaytu or garden land. Major cultivation in Karnataka occurs through khushki or dry land cultivation. Karnataka experiences rains from April to November. The Hindu almanac lists twenty-seven rain stars. Each star represents a period of fourteen days of the rainy season. Some of these stars are Asvini, Uttare and Citte. Farmers believe in the working of these stars, which can be observed in proverbs used by them, such as “If Uttare brings rains, the seeds are most rewarding”. In villages, the plough is referred to as “aaru” or “eeru”. The beginning of cultivation is marked by a religious rite called “honnaaru”, which means “the golden cultivation”. During this rite, they plough three rounds, although if the land is sufficiently wet they plough more. They begin regular ploughing when the rains increase. This is known as, “ukkehodeyuvudu”. When the land is ploughed, a fixed amount of cattle manure is spread over it. The land is ploughed from the east to the west, as this is believed to be beneficial for the crops. Several lines are marked for the sowing of the seeds, out of which seven to eight are for the main crop, and one line is for the assorted seeds, which is known as “akkadisaalu”. The sowing of seeds is done in three ways, which are, “haakuvudu” or putting in the row, “bittuvudu” or dibbling in the row, and “naatimaaduvudu” or transplanting in the row. In the “haakuvudu” method, seeds are spread by hand and then the soil is covered by using “kunte” or flank, on the seeds to allow them to germinate. This process is called “kambattige”. In the “bittuvudu” method, the seeds are sown by using the “kuurige” or seed drill. The seeds of ragi and jowar are sown using this method. The “kunte” or flank is used to cover these seeds with soil. In “naatimaaduvudu” method, seeds are thickly planted in beds especially prepared for this purpose. After the crops are grown to a certain level, they are transplanted to the main field. Weeds are removed every ten to fifteen days to avoid them from harming the crops. In order to avoid pests, bird damage, and diseases, farmers use “uppucarage” or ash, and the powder of neem leaves and seeds mixed with water and other pesticides. In order to get a successful harvest, farmers perform puja on the eastern side of the land. This is known as “koylupuuje”. The main harvest season starts during October and November. Crops like ragi and paddy are cut and set aside in lumps for drying. After drying, they are bundled up, tied into bunches, and piled up straight, to avoid white ants. These heaps are called “suttuggudu” or “kaageguudu”. They are then transported to thrashing places where they are heaped in round or rectangular shapes. In the case of jowar, the ear heads are cut, dried, and heaped. The threshing methods that are followed are “badiyuvudu” or beating, “hantitulisuvudu” or animal foot-walking, and “roonagalluhodeyvudu” or stone roller. If the produce is less, the “badiyuvudu” method is used in “kana” or threshing yard. Harvested crops are bought in bunches called “kanthe” and spread in circular form. In earlier days, most crops, like paddy, jowar and bajra used to be threshed using the “hantitulisuvudu” method. Although today, this method has been replaced by the “roonagalluhodeyyvudu” method. In this method, a big circular stone is tied to the cattle and moved over the spread husk in a circular fashion. The husk is then further mixed with a long stick called “meerekoolu” and is then again pressed using the stone roller. The first layer of husk is removed and the entire process is repeated again. The remaining husks are further removed using “muullugaddi”, which is a bunch of thorny sticks, and “halube” or “jantugunte”, which is an instrument made of bamboo stick fixed to a wooden block. The husk is removed from the yard and the grains are piled up using an instrument called “gvaare”.