Agriculture Department officials are keeping their fingers crossed over the prospects in the rabi season in the face of the acute power crisis gripping Andhra Pradesh.

The ongoing power crisis is sure to impact agricultural operations, essentially in areas known for usage of borewells. The State has already suffered crop losses in coastal districts with paddy in an estimated four lakh hectares damaged in the aftermath of Nilam cyclone.

The deficit in power supply is likely to worsen further in the coming months if the projection made by the power utilities is any indication. The daily shortage during the current month is expected to be around 40 million units (MU) and it is likely to shoot up to 79 MU and 74 MU respectively in the next two months, considered crucial for rabi crop.

Food grain output

The Agriculture Department had anticipated food grain output of 103.85 lakh tonne during rabi against the total yield for the year estimated at 218 lakh tonne with paddy taking the lion’s share of 153 lakh tonne, maize (40 lakh tonne) and pulses (18 lakh tonne). “Farmers will depend on borewells either for water intensive paddy or some other crop as long as water is available,” a senior official said.

Senior officials feel that the ongoing crisis could alter the schedule of power supply, probably split into more spells, going by the government’s assurance of providing seven-hour supply, but this will not deter farmers from using borewells.

Agriculture Department Principal Secretary V. Nagi Reddy told The Hindu that power deficit is expected to be one limiting factor for achieving the targeted output this year in addition to reduced water availability. “The deficit will definitely have an impact on rabi crop, but we cannot immediately assess what will be the extent,” he said.

According to Agriculture Commissioner K. Madhusudana Rao, kharif crop loss in an extent of about 4 lakh hectares was witnessed in the aftermath of Nilam. The department had launched a campaign to ensure that farmers diversify into other crops like maize and jowar that will yield good returns besides reducing dependence on paddy. Farmers are hesitating to opt for paddy going by the increasing acreage in cotton and other crops.