Expectations in Coastal Karnataka rise with Shobha’s ‘Green Portfolio’

 Expectations in Coastal Karnataka rise with Shobha’s ‘Green Portfolio’
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Udupi-Chikkamagaluru MP Shobha Karandlaje who was inducted into the Modi cabinet has now entered ‘Krishni Bhavan,’ as Minister of State for Agriculture and Farmers’ Welfare.

Many leaders from Coastal Karnataka have entered the Central cabinet- both in Congress and BJP governments. They had served in ministries like Civil aviation, chemical and fertilizers, railway, skill development, finance, and rural development. Some had succeeded in using their influence and contributed to the development of the region by bringing special projects. But people of the region feel that in recent years, no major projects have come to the region due to the efforts of the Ministers or elected representatives of the region.

Though every ministry has its importance, the agriculture ministry is the one with which the people can closely associate themselves. Shobha’s entry to Krishi Bhavan has raised expectations of the people of Coastal districts.

Shobha is known for her dedicated work in any ministry she enters. The people of Karnataka had experienced it during her term as Energy and Panchayat Raj Minister in the state.

A few decades ago Coastal Karnataka was known for its agricultural activities. But in recent years the agriculture activity is suffering due to various reasons.

Hundreds of acres of Paddy fields are left fallow due to the non-availability of labor and lack of support to the farmers. The coastal districts had several unique varieties of paddy which have almost vanished now. The agriculture department can take initiative to ensure the green revolution repeats in the Coastal belt.

Shobha represents the Udupi-Chikkamagaluru constituency. The problem of the Tea and Coffee growers has been unheard of for several years. Though the tea and coffee estates sound big, the problem faced by these plantation owners has increased over the years.

Pepper market is marred by the entry of pepper from other countries. While the rate per kg of pepper had touched 700-800 a few years ago, now it is within 500. The growers want the government to take strict action to ensure the pepper gets its flavor back.

Areca and Rubber which had grabbed the attention of many farmers in the last two decades are also suffering now.
The downward trend in rubber continues to haunt the rubber growers who hardly get any support from the government. They have been demanding a ‘Rubber Production Incentive Scheme.’ As per the scheme, which was enforced in Kerala, the difference between the market support price and the daily reference price approved by the Rubber board was credited to the bank account of the growers directly. Arecanut growers are scared about the ‘ban’ on supari and also other problems related to the fields.

People in Dakshina Kannada also remembers Shobha’s contribution in identifying the endosulfan victims and providing them compensation and also setting up a daycare center at Kokkada. She was also keen on banning endosulfan fertilizer then.

Now with Shobha taking charge as the agriculture minister endosulfan victims have decided to meet her and get a proper solution to them.

While some of these do not come under the agriculture minister but is associated with Commerce minister, as it is related to farmers, they expect Shobha to directly help them in those coming under her ministry and helping them in taking their voice to the minister concerned.

It must be noted that Modi has appointed Shobha as minister of state for agriculture at a juncture when the Agriculture department is attracting all the attention. The new farm law is seen as a major weapon for the opposition to topple the Modi government. Shobha, known for her firm decisions, is likely to help the government tackle this tussle.

B Janardhan Poojary, who was the Union Minister of State for Finance under Pranab Mukherjee and V P Singh was known for his daring initiative and straightforwardness. People are eagerly waiting to see if Shobha would bring some changes or will she join the bandwagon of many ‘ex-ministers who were just in power without any contribution.

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