It constitutes 80 per cent of all Irrigated Dry crops

Farmers in the Krishna western delta began cultivating maize as the ‘second crop' recently, even as the Irrigation Department ruled out the possibility of supplying water for the rabi season.

The Irrigation Advisory Board (IAB) meeting held a couple of days ago ended in a chaos as the farmers' demand to release water for rabi was turned down by the Collector, who insisted that there was not enough water in the Srisailam and Nagarjuna Sagar projects to meet their requirement.

But this is no deterrent to farmers to grow maize as it has been fetching them good returns ranging from Rs. 1,000 to Rs. 1,500 per quintal. It is estimated that maize constitutes up to 80 per cent of all the Irrigated Dry (ID) crops being cultivated in about three lakh acres under the Krishna western delta this season.

Second crop

Cultivation of maize in rabi needs about 15,000 million cubic feet of water. But the farmers' demanded has not been conceded. It would be enough to irrigate maize as second crop to paddy.

Maize farmers have to stretch their resources to the limit as they will not get water in this season as announced by the district administration.

Those in the tail-end areas will be hit hard.

The normal area under maize cultivation in the district, most of it exists in the Tenali division, is about 70,000 hectares, according to official sources.

Farmers who have grown maize to a small extent in kharif are almost saved, but that's not the case with those hoping to reap a rich harvest towards the end of rabi 2011-12.

Maize productivity in the district is roughly 8,815 kg per hectare whereas the State figure is just 5,263 kg/ha. The total production is usually 6,60,000 tonnes.

Though the potential is excellent, the actual yields are most likely to take a severe beating due to the water crisis and adverse weather.

It remains to be seen what the farmers will do to protect their rabi crops as the season progresses.