Delta farmers stare at crisis

Vagaries of weather leads to losses in delta.

Vijayawada: Farmers in Krishna delta, popularly known as the rice bowl of Andhra Pradesh, are facing a real crisis as they have to contend with frequent cyclones, heavy rains or water scarcity for irrigation.

The two recent cyclones and heavy rains damaged an estimated 50 per cent of the paddy crop in Krishna delta and now the farming community is on tenterhooks, waiting for the state government to officially make an announcement regarding the Rabi crop.

Nearly 14 lakh acres of paddy fields in the limits of Krishna, Guntur, West Godavari and Prakasam districts come under the delta area. According to official reports, about four lakh acres of paddy was damaged by Cyclone Helen.

Another two lakh acres of paddy was damaged by Cyclone Phailin that had played havoc in the delta a month ago. Moreover, paddy plantation was not completed in nearly one lakh acres due to the delay in releasing water into the canals. This resulted in only 50 per cent of the cultivable area being utilised in the present season and farmers, and the government, facing losses.

According to estimates, the entire delta area produces nearly 45 lakh tonnes of paddy, worth Rs 15,000 crore every year in the Kharif season alone. This generates about Rs 2,000 crore in taxes and market cess for the government.

It must be mentioned here that the government had announced crop holiday in the last two Rabi seasons in the entire Krishna delta and no paddy crop was sown. The farmers lost an estimated Rs 10,000 crore due to the crop holiday. Apart from this, the farmers were not able to meet the expected production capacity in the Krishna delta in the last two Kharif seasons due to bad weather conditions and water scarcity.

Effectively, the farming community in the entire Krishna delta has been facing losses over the last several years. Amidst another cyclone warning, the delta farmers fear that they may face more losses in the near future.

In this backdrop, the farmers are demanding that the ban on Rabi crop be lifted and the government announce the water release schedule. Andhra Pradesh Rytanga Samaikaya president Erneni Nagendranath said that the government should release the water as early as possible so that the losses could be offset.

( Source : dc )
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