After the decline in production of rice, cereals and other crops, the elusive monsoon is likely to impact vegetable cultivation in Andhra Pradesh. Of the 1.1-lakh hectares of the cropped area, 18,000 hectares is totally rainfed while another 50,000 hectares is dependent on borewells.

Though the area under vegetable cultivation remained more or less the same as compared to previous year, Horticulture Department officials are concerned over the deficit rain that is likely to affect nurseries which have reached the plant stage.

The nurseries, according to officials, desperately need good rain for at least the coming two weeks so that the existing plantation in the rainfed areas did not wither away. In addition, they are concerned over the falling levels of groundwater that is posing a threat to productivity in at least 25,000 hectares where groundwater level is reportedly under strain.

Consumers are already facing shortage of vegetables such as beans, cabbage and cauliflower with dwindling stocks of the commodities in the market and the shortage is likely to be more pronounced if good rainfall eludes the State for some more days. Though Saturday’s heavy rains in some districts brought some cheer to the department, senior officials have, however, decided to promote cultivation of leafy vegetables and short gestation varieties such as gourds as a precautionary measure.

“The short duration crops will ensure availability of at least some varieties of vegetables in the market to meet the demand and help in checking price rise,” a senior official pointed out. In the meantime, the department had announced several measures, including 75 per cent subsidy on seeds and supplying plastic crates that could be used as seeding trays in case of vegetables like tomato free of cost.

The department is encouraging shade net house nurseries that will significantly enhance productivity, consuming lesser water as farmers are found to be unwilling to opt for drip and sprinkler systems owing to their limitations, the official said.

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