Three spells of rain reported at regular intervals along the coastline areas of Krishna district resulted in severe damage of salt fields and left the farmers in distress this season.
Blistering heatwaves, however, are favourable conditions for the formation of salt, but untimely spell of rainfall recorded ten days ago washed way the salt before it was all set to be harvested.
“The maximum salt production per acre in this season –from January to till onset of monsoon – is barely 12-14 quintals as against the all time average of 25 quintals”, said I. Nageswara Rao, a salt farmer from Manginpudi Beach area.
The prime reason for low output was rainfall, and the stretch from Kruthivennu to Nagayalanka experienced a similar situation. Apart from companies which got the land on different modes of lease from the Salt Commission, individual farmers from the Scheduled Caste and fisher folk communities are the worst affected.
“There was no production to export to other parts of Andhra Pradesh this season. Whatever we can extract from the field is sold to the locals,” said Ch. Venkanna, engaged in salt cultivation in the government distributed one-acre land in Machilipatnam rural area. Not even a single lorry had come to procure the salt from Manginapudi beach area in May.
No middlemen turned up to buy the salt expecting poor quality as it was largely mixed with rain water.
The price per quintal was between Rs.80 to Rs.100 as against Rs.180 to Rs. 200 in February and March, Mr. Venkanna told The Hindu.
The price cycle depends on the number of middlemen in the fray to procure the production directly from the farmer on the field.
Praying for rain
The commercial affair, production of salt, requires very less input cost and high crop returns and thus unprecedented number of families living along the coastline simply can’t shift from any other activity, but had to pray for bountiful seasons with timely rains.