Nellore: The rain-fed rice cultivation areas in Nellore district came down drastically following scanty rainfall and poor water reserves, especially in cultivation areas.
Out of the total paddy cultivation area of 7 lakh acres, cultivation is being taken up in about 4 lakh acres at Pennar Delta and a few other areas during the present agriculture season (Rabi).
Besides shortage of water, demonetisation had also contributed to a sharp drop in the extent of cultivation. The situation is certain to boost the cost of the rice and hit the rice industry, which exports raw rice as well as boiled rice to neighbouring states.
Secretary of the Federation of Farmers’ Associations, C. Koti Reddy, has alleged that a large number of farmers dropped plans to raise crops even in the delta area, because of the cash crunch post-demonetisation and this had hit the farm labour hard.
“Those who have opted out of cultivation during the current season will not be in a position to raise the next crop also as they will not have any revenue to invest on inputs. Those who embarked on cultivation are now are also not a happy lot since they were forced to borrow money from lenders as well other inputs from fertiliser dealers at high interest rates, because of the restriction on withdrawing cash from the banks,” Koti Reddy observed.
He reminded that they cannot pay cheques to farm labour and suppliers of seed and pesticides. He said most of the farmers raised super fine variety (Jilakara Masoori) yet the cost may cross `50 per kilo in the retail market because of the drop in cultivation area.
Rice millers also subscribe to the opinion of Koti Reddy. A rice miller, P. Kishore Reddy, said the current scenario would drastically affect their industry, which depends mostly on export.
According to Reddy, 80 per cent of the industry is surviving on exporting raw and parboiled rice and the balance 20 per cent are specialised rice mills meant to process a fine variety of rice which is being raised now mostly in delta areas.
He said the rice varieties raised in rain-fed areas are ideal for export and paddy-to-rice conversion is also 5 to 6 bags (75 kg each) more than the paddy produced in the delta.
He added that rice millers from East Godavari and Miryalaguda in Telangana, concentrate on Nellore to buy fine variety rice.This will also affect their business as well give room for sharp increase in the price of the rice....