Shivamogga: The land that was once famous for the breath taking Jog Falls and the serene scenic beauty is now becoming infamous for being the place which is extensively growing cannabis in the state.
The Excise Department has confirmed the same and it is said that crash in market price of food and commercial crop has compelled the debt-ridden farmers to turn to growing cannabis.
It is said that land adjoining main roads of Shivamogga are being conveniently being used to grow this flowering herb which is banned in India. To establish the fact, six to seven cases have been filed in Shivamogga over the last one month for growing cannabis and stock worth lakhs of rupees have been seized. However, it is said that the departments concerned have failed to weed out the ‘weed’ from Shivamogga soil because they have been acting only on tip offs and have not been taking interest in locating the areas where the crop is being grown. The raids are only minimum when compared to the areas that have been engulfed by lush green cannabis bushes.
The locals say that though cannabis cultivation has been going on clandestinely in remote landscapes of Shivamogga over the last one decade, the number of farmers taking liking to this cultivation and expanse of area coming under cannabis ‘spell’ is only growing.
Another startling rumour which is making rounds is the existence of well-laid network of agents who are encouraging and luring more and more farmers to take up Ganja cultivation. As per sources, these agents meet the gullible farmers and speak to them about the financial advantages of growing ganja in their farmland. The agents reportedly even provide the seeds to the farmers for cultivation and also make arrangements to sell the produce. The agents convince the farmers to grow just a few saplings of cannabis in their ginger or jowar fields as mixed crop to eke out additional income.
The agents, it is said, purchase one kg of dry leaves from the farmers at Rs 1,000 to 1,500. Each plant of cannabis can yield about three kg of dry leaves and going by this calculation, even plating five saplings in the farmland is a good deal for the farmers who are already in financial crunch. The farmers fall prey to these talks, without even realising that growing and selling cannabis is an offence.
The cannabis thus produced are packed and sold at Rs 7,000 per kg in bigger cities like Mangaluru, Mumbai and in places where there is concentration of educational institutions, say reliable sources.
However, with the debt-ridden farmers taking to Ganja cultivation, it is time the departments concerned woke up from their slumber.