Cyclone Michaung brings tears to paddy farmers in Bapatla district

Had we harvested the crop even a week ago, we would have escaped heavy losses, rue paddy cultivators

December 06, 2023 07:02 pm | Updated 07:02 pm IST - BAPATLA

Farmers surveying the extent of crop loss in an inundated paddy field at Appikatla village in Bapatla district on Wednesday.

Farmers surveying the extent of crop loss in an inundated paddy field at Appikatla village in Bapatla district on Wednesday. | Photo Credit: K.V.S. Giri

Cyclone Michaung, which made landfall near Bapatla, inflicted severe loss on farmers, particularly paddy cultivators.

Inundated farm fields, overflowing canals, distressed farmers in the fields, earthmovers clearing canals and drainages and farmers drying the paddy stocks on the roadside were the scenes that greeted people a day after the cyclone’s landfall, on Wednesday.

At Appikatla village, villagers were seen standing in knee-deep rainwater in their inundated fields, wistfully surveying their damaged crops.

Crop loss was reported from Ponnur, Pasalatadiparru, Kondubatlapalem, Munipalle, Chebrolu, Appikatla, Kondamudi, Velladuru, Mamidilapalli and other villages.

As it was still raining in the catchment areas, canals were overflowing and the ready-to-harvest crop was under floodwaters for the fourth day, the farmers said.

‘Mangalasutram’ mortgaged

“I took five acres on lease and had raised the BPT paddy variety. I paid an amount of ₹20,000 per acre to the landowner, and invested about ₹40,000 per acre. Now, the entire crop has been destroyed,” said Palaparthi Subba Rao, a farmer.

“Actually, the crop was all set to be harvested. As there was a change in weather condition, I stopped harvesting. If I had cut the crop a week ago, I would have escaped the cyclone’s wrath. I raised the crop by mortgaging the ‘mangalasutram’ of my wife,” says a tenant farmer, Ravipati Venkateswara Rao, who suffered a loss of more than ₹4 lakh.

“We sowed BPT-58 and 2846 varieties in the middle of August, and protected the crop for about four months by struggling day and night. Now, the cyclone has destroyed the crop which was ready to harvest and has brought tears for us,” said Korra Subba Rao, a farmer. Tandra Srinivas Rao, another farmer, also had a similar story to share.

Poor maintenance of canals

Another tenant farmer, Inaganti Srikanth, who cultivated paddy in about 15 acres and suffered steep losses, said the crops were inundated due to a poor drainage system and because the canals were not desilted for a long time.

“We removed silt in a few irrigation drains with our own money. There was no maintenance of canals and weed was not removed for the last few years.,” said Mr. Srikanth.

“Farmers have invested large amounts of money and suffered huge losses due to Cyclone Michaung. Now, we have to spend ₹10,000 per acre to clear the damaged crop and prepare for the second crop,” said a farmer K. Hari Babu.

Meanwhile, Ponnur MLA Kilari Venkata Roshaiah and officials of the Agriculture Department visited the soaked crops in Ponnur and other villages and enquired about the damage.

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