ANDHRA PRADESH

Continued dry spell shatters farmers' hopes

WARANGAL OCT. 3. With rain continuing to play truant and the Government failing to ensure uninterrupted power supply, farmers in the district are in for a major shock.

Major portions of the paddy, maize and cotton crops are fast withering away in many parts of the district due to the dry spell and inadequate rainfall. The district received 33 per cent deficit rainfall. Till September last week, the district has recorded 566.6 mm rainfall as against the normal of 836 mm. Officials in the Agricultural Department say there is no scope for rejuvenating the crop that has already withered away. Also, there appears to be no chance to protect the existing stretches unless there is good rain. The loss in monetary terms till date has been estimated at Rs. 71.11 crores.

Of the total paddy crop sown in an area of 92,709 hectares, the crop in 11,701 hectares has dried up. Of the total maize sown in 55,154 hectares, the crop in 6,800 hectares has dried up and of the cotton sown in 1,07,083 hectares, the crop in 14,618 has dried up. "If the dry spell continues for another week, the loss is going to be enormous,'' says a senior agriculture officer.

The water levels in the medium irrigation sources of Laknavaram, Ramappa, Pakhal, Salivagu Project, Malluruvagu, Jangalapally, Ghanpur (m), Bheemghanpur and Madannapet have fallen considerably from the full tank level. Farmers are unable to draw from the dead storages due to interruptions in power supply.

Revenue officials in the district say that the damage caused by drought cannot be undone and it is for the Government to come out with a policy decision on the issue. They have been trying to wet the existing crop by pumping water from a depth using motors. "We are doing our best to save the crop that is nearing harvesting,'' says another senior officer.

A series of review meetings and brainstorming sessions of officials have failed to come up with a solution, while farmers in the district are hoping against hope.

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