While farmers in water-rich areas of Andhra Pradesh have declared crop holiday in about three lakh acres, their counterparts in other parts of the State may end up losing crop in 10 lakh acres this season due to irregular or lack of rain.

Sowings in the State were completed in 53 lakh hectares, four lakh hectares short of the area which should have been covered so far. The State grows crops on 78.11 lakh ha in the kharif season.

Worst hit among major crops categories are paddy, groundnut, all pulses, and chilli. Sunflower is facing a complete wash-out.

Saving grace

The saving grace, however, is cotton with the area sown registering a growth of 136 per cent at 16.48 lakh hectares as against the season average of 13.51 lakh ha.

The farmers, however, had to sow twice in several parts, increasing costs on seeds and labour.

The other gainers include turmeric at 0.57 lakh ha (season average 0.63 lakh) and castor with 1.82 lakh ha (1.77 lakh ha).

All but one (Srikakulam) district have registered shortfall in the rainfall. Twenty-two districts recorded rainfall in the range of -6 per cent to -23 per cent, while Srikaulam managed to achieve no deviation from the average of 375 mm as on date.

Agricultural operations have gone for a toss due to shortfall in rain and irregularity of incidence.

“This might give rise to increase in incidence of sucking pests, particularly in cotton, which has emerged as the lone hope for kharif,” a senior official of Acharya N.G. Ranga Agriculture told Business Line.

Area covered

While sunflower and chillies fell in the below 25 per cent (of normal area covered), paddy and sesamum were in the 26-50 per cent band with redgram, groundnut, jowar and onion in the range of 51-75 per cent.

“Farmers need not worry about losing the season. They can still go for alternative crops such as green gram and maize,” the official said.

The CPM-affiliated Rythu Sangham said the Agriculture Department should step in and distribute seeds and fertilisers to farmers to grow short-term crops and salvage the season. “They (farmers) need help. They have already invested twice in most areas, particularly in cotton growing areas,” he said.

Major loser

The major loser, region-wise, is coastal Andhra. The region could see sowings in 11 lakh ha against the normal as-on-date sowing area of 15 lakh ha. The region has total arable land of 24.41 lakh ha.

The water-scarce Rayalaseema region too lags at 11.87 lakh ha (13.69 lakh ha) as on date. The average crop area in the region stands at 24.41 lakh ha.

Telangana region, which grows crops in 35.79 lakh ha in a normal year, is better off with a sown area of 30.48 lakh ha (28.62 lakh ha).

Kadapa (Rayalaseema), Prakasam and East Godavari (Andhra) are the worst hit.

They witnessed only 38 per cent, 45 per cent and 59 per cent of the normal sowing area so far.

(This article was published on August 15, 2011)
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