Crop dependent totally on groundwater with help of borewells

Simhadri Satyanarayana, a tobacco grower from Pamulavarigudem in Buttayagudem mandal of West Godavari district, is literally caught in the crossfire between the State and the protesters crusading for unity of the State. The blackouts induced by the indefinite strike launched by the Vidyut JAC for Samaikhyandhra gives him anxious moments over the prospects of his crop. The strike in the Eastern Power Distribution Company Limited (EPDCL) was announced when he was just getting ready for transplantation in his field with an extent of 10 acres. And, when he was getting worried over the safety of the nurseries, showers, on account of a depression in the Bay of Bengal, came as a blessing in disguise.

“I have to water my nursery beds every day for survival. But blackouts have been persisting from dawn to dusk for the last three days due to the strike and there is no regular power supply even by night. When I lost hope, the rain turned out to be life-saver for the seedlings,” Mr. Srinivasa Rao said. In fact, cyclonic weather is not conducive for tobacco plantation as such conditions expose the crop to diseases and drop in yield. But there was no alternative for him to putting up with the nature’s vagaries, which provided him a breather, for the time being, at least. Virginia tobacco is grown on around 70,000 acres in the NLS area falling under the upland tracts in the district. When 50 per cent of the growers went for plantations, the remaining farmers deferred the process, hoping for the best, according to Karuturi Srinivasa Rao, a leader of the NLS Area Tobacco Growers Welfare Association from Devarapalli. The transplantations are scheduled to have begun from September third week in the normal course. “If there is no power, there is no future for tobacco,” says the association leader. The crop is completely dependent on ground water exploited with borewells run on electricity. Diesel engines were not a substitute for power-based motors as the former was not economically viable in view of the soaring diesel cost, so also the generators, he adds. “The farmers will have to hit the road to save the crops if the conflict continues for some more time. It is high time the government ended the deadlock and restored peace in the interest of agriculture, Mr. Rao said.