Failure of crop for two consecutive seasons
As major commercial crop coconut has been badly affected in the last two seasons, migration of the workers from coconut industry is on the rise across the Krishna-Godavari Delta areas.
Coconut growers and exporters blame lack of irrigation water for failure of the crop in the two consecutive Rabi seasons. This summer, farmers witnessed almost 90 per cent fall in coconut yield in Kruthivennu and Bantumilli mandals in Krishna district. “Not less than 5,000 workers, who eked out their livelihood by peeling coconuts, have already migrated to Kerala and Tamil Nadu since 2011 summer. Many even migrated along with their families,” says Y. Srinivasa Rao, coconut exporter from Krishna District.
Majority of the seasonal migrants are from the rural pockets in Krishna-Godavari delta areas, where coconut industry once flourished. As many as nine big coconut exporting units in the district could not promise regular work even for 500 people in the ongoing season.
These units had a capacity of employing 50 workers a day till 2010, the last best season for coconut growers. “Barely half a dozen of workers are enough to complete the peeling of the present procurement. The strong cycle of rural economic activity is largely dependent on coconut industry in Krishna and Godavari Districts after aquaculture”, said Mr. Srinivasa Rao. “Maximum yield of 1,500 fine quality coconuts per acre was reported while most of the remaining yield is not suitable for export”, he added. “Failure of coconut fields has spelt a drought-like situation for farmers and workers. Most of us have lost employment this summer while exporters have lost their market returns,” said 74-year coconut peeler M. Narasimha Murthy. His co-workers in East Godavari have migrated to Kerala.
Mr. Murthy feared that discontinuity of peeling work would lead to pains and other health problems.