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After Nilam, a tough season awaits cotton farmers

V. Raghavendra
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Officials say crop on more than 75,000 acres damaged

In troubled waters:Farmers showing damaged cotton balls at Venigalla village in Pedakakani mandal of Guntur district. —Photo: T. Vijaya Kumar
In troubled waters:Farmers showing damaged cotton balls at Venigalla village in Pedakakani mandal of Guntur district. —Photo: T. Vijaya Kumar

Cotton farmers have a tough season ahead due to the crop loss inflicted by heavy rains that accompanied cyclone Nilam. It is officially estimated that cotton crop on more than 75,000 acres has been damaged and the extent of loss is likely to rise further.

The average yield of 10 quintals per acre is bound to come down significantly because of the calamity.

The Cotton Corporation of India has only recently opened procurement centres to buy the ‘white gold’ from farmers at the stipulated price of Rs 3,900 per quintal thereby help them in deriving minimum returns but their hopes of a good harvest were dashed by the torrential rains.

Cotton crop grown in black soils require moderate rains, which turned out to be a deluge in just a couple of days after Nilam made the landfall off Tamil Nadu coast.

It was a twist of fate that brought misery to the farmers who were fighting for their share of water from Nagarjuna Sagar dam for giving just two wettings to their crop. Then the downpour came jeopardizing the prospects of a bumper crop.

Tenant farmers were particularly hit hard by the rains across the district. A conservative assessment pegged the loss per acre at minimum Rs 15,000 on an investment of Rs 40,000 to Rs 50,000.

The crop might appear to be normal on a quick glance but a closer look unveils the true picture.

By the time the sheets of water disappeared from the fields, cotton bolls (seed-bearing capsules) up to 1.5 to 2 feet of a plant that grows to a height of 4 to 4.5 feet have worn out into dark black, spotted pieces of moist fibre.

Nearly 50 bolls are estimated to have been lost per plant and the number of plants in a single acre range from 6,000 to 8,000.

This gives an idea of the magnitude of the disaster with which the farmers are yet to come to grips.

Kolli Ranga Reddy, a farmer of Venigalla village near Pedakakani, told The Hindu that cotton is grown in about 3,000 acres spanning 14 villages in the mandal and most of the area was partly inundated by water for two to three days and that was enough to cause a substantial loss.

Cotton is grown by him in about 3 acres.

The Government should buy the damaged crop on liberal terms lest the farmers should incur an irreparable loss, he demanded.

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