Huge shortfall in paddy cultivation due to uneven rains
A severe foodgrain crisis stares Andhra Pradesh this kharif season for the first time in recent years due to the uneven distribution of rains.
This is reflected in the huge shortfall in paddy cultivation. Agriculture Department officials estimate the area under paddy cultivation to be just 12 lakh hectares, well below the area of 16 lakh ha normally covered by mid-August. It has not been so poor in recent years with transplantation taking place in 13.5-lakh ha in 2010 and in 16-lakh ha in 2011.
The cultivation of major cereals, pulses and oilseeds, except a few, is yet reach normal extent mainly due to the erratic rainfall, lack of water in major irrigation sources and frequent disruption of power supply to the farm sector.
While paddy can be transplanted if the rainfall improves and irrigation sources receive water, there is no prospect of taking up sowing of other crops in the remaining part of the kharif season till September 30 as their yield will fall drastically. “Sowing of rain-fed kharif crops now will be useful mostly for fodder rather than grain production,” an official of the Agriculture Department said.
“The prospects of heavy inflows in major irrigation sources across the Krishna and the Godavari in the immediate future do not seem bright. We are worried about paddy cultivation reaching the normal area of 26.48-lakh ha in kharif. Unless the reservoir levels improve, we cannot achieve this target,” the official added.
Similarly, the cultivation of pulses is falling short by over 2-lakh ha this season, though it is slightly up, compared to last year. Sowing of other cereals and millets, however, is driven by the increase in maize cultivation as it has already been sown in about 5-lakh ha, but the farmers have shown little interest in other millets, except bajra.
Cultivation of groundnut in this kharif, 75 per cent of it in Anantapur district, also presents a poor picture. The sowings have fallen short by about 3.6-lakh ha so far. Groundnut has been sown only in 9.21-lakh ha, against the normal area of 12.83-lakh ha, entire extent of which is covered by now. “Those who begin sowing the crop now, will have to do so either for insurance or for cattle fodder,” the official said.