It was just a week ago that 60-year-old B. Seetaramulu, a BT cotton farmer at Sher Mohammedpeta in Jaggayyapeta mandal, was staring at his crop from an elevated platform and hoping to make some good money to clear his debts. The standing crop looked good and yield was much better than the previous year, today all his hopes are shattered and he stares at his damaged crop with a forlorn look.
The recent rains, caused by the North East monsoon, have washed the hopes of many farmers be it BT cotton growers, chilli, maize or vegetables. “We were yet to recover from last year’s loss due to Nilam cyclone and this year the tragedy again struck us. That makes two consecutive years. Where do we go from here,” he said.
As per the initial assessment of the agriculture department, out of 5,200 hectares of maize about 1,200 hectares are damaged and in case of BT cotton of 54,409 hectares over 23,600 hectares of crop stands damaged. With regard to paddy of the 2.5 lakh hectares about 21,389 hectares are damaged and groundnut of 1,430 hectares about 845 hectares stand damaged.
Most of the farmers said they were very happy with yield till a week ago and were hoping to cover up last year’s Nilam’s loss, but this year the damage was even bigger as 80 to 100 per cent of the crops were damaged and BT cotton growers were the worst hit, as the crop grows only once a year and this was the harvest time.
According to Gauramma of Anumanchipalli village in Jaggayyapeta mandal, who cultivates BT cotton in a three-acre leased land, the entire crop was damaged. “Apart from paying a lease rent of Rs. 15,000 per acre, we invested about Rs. 35,000 per acre and now we will not get a single rupee back,” she said.
YSR Congress leader Samineni Udaya Bhanu who was accompanying party’s honorary president Y.S. Vijayamma during a tour of the affected mandals, said farmers anyway do not make a great deal of money as the MSP (minimum support price) for BT Cotton set by the government this year was Rs. 4,000 per quintal when the production cost was Rs. 5,950 per acre and yield per acre ranges from two to three quintals, but at least they make some money now even that hope is washed away.
YSR Congress farmer’s leader Nagi Reddy, said the government was yet to clear last year’s input subsidy for the Nilam cyclone loss and they have duped the farmers by reducing the acreage. “We have to wait and see what action they take in this year,” he said.