P. Samuel Jonathan
TENALI: Vast swathes of maize plantations dot the picturesque countryside in the rural hamlets abutting Tenali rural mandal. Farmhands busy plucking the corn or cutting the top stems of jowar is a familiar sight during this summer.
Cultivation of maize as viable second crop has picked up in the delta bowl of Guntur district and heralded an economic and agricultural revolution. Farmers who experimented with maize in 2002 by planting the crop in few hundreds of acres were now astonished to see its popularity grow with maize spread over 2.20 lakh acres in the Krishna western delta, out of the total cultivable area of 2.70 lakh acres in the district.
``Production of maize in the State is expected to touch 10 lakh tones within two years and the state is poised to leap into the third place in the country as the highest producer of the crop,” said project director, Central Maize Research Station, Saindas, who was here recently.
Farmers, who were hitherto, cultivating black gram as a second crop, took to maize after yield of black gram started declining and the cost of production shot up.
Cultivation of Maize has several advantages as it is a zero tillage crop and the black soil with a capacity to retain water suits the crop. The farmers are also buoyed with the steady rise of remunerative price which raised to Rs.1,000 a quintal and increased productivity with 30 quintals per acre. The Centre has already declared a minimum support price of Rs.840 a quintal, while the actual selling price hovered about Rs.750.
``The Markfed has agreed to procure the stocks at the Agricultural Market Yard from April 15 to enable farmers to sell their produces at a reasonable price,” said a senior agricultural official at Tenali.
Along with the cultivation of maize, the cultivation of jowar has also picked up as a viable second crop.
Some of the farmers were however wary of declining production of jowar and have taking steps to prevent from pest infections.