Farmers in the district seem to be caught between the devil and the deep blue sea as they are faced with severe scarcity of farm labour in the face of high machinery costs.
In most of the areas in the district, the cotton which came for harvest was left as it is owing to the shortage of farm labour. An unexpected spell of rain can completely damage the crop resulting in misery for farmers.
“Now, most of the villagers are working under MNREGS where they get high wages for less work. There is flexibility in working hours. They are not showing interest in farm operations as the average farmer cannot pay. Even if some agree to pay, labourers are not interested,” explained Sankineni Purnchandar Rao of Lybarthi village.
The only solution to the problem is mechanisation. But due to high costs, machines still remain out of the reach of farmers. A transplanter costs Rs. 35 lakh which neither an individual farmer nor a society can afford.
According to the sources, Joint Director (Agriculture), Warangal has Rs 9.5 crore funds earmarked for encouraging farm mechanisation. However, it remained un-utilised for the past one year for reasons only known to officials. Though the banks have been talking about extending liberal loans, the stringent procedures still discourage farmers. The banks want farmers to mortgage land but farmers individually possess small holdings ranging from two to five acres which is not sufficient for a loan. Even as a society, they cannot mortgage land as it is registered only on individual names.
Speaking to The Hindu , District Agricultural Technology Transfer (DATT) centre coordinator Dr. R. Uma Reddy said that since the farm equipment was imported, it cost a lot. Unless they are produced on the domestic front, they cannot be made affordable. “Engineering students should come forward to produce a drum seeder indigenously so that it can be made accessible to small and marginal farmers. Tractor prices have remained high for decades,” he observed.