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Chittoor farmers losing hope on kharif, sowing dips by 50%

Officials advise ryots to skip paddy cultivation for two years

With the southwest monsoon giving a complete slip to the farmers of Chittoor district, the kharif season witnessed sowing of the prime groundnut crop and other regular crops in about 1.3 lakh hectares as against the regular acreage of 2.4 lakh hectares.

With groundwater table going dry in 70% of the agrarian belt, paddy cultivation has been badly hit in the district.

The gravity of the situation is such that the agriculture officials have appealed to the farmers to stop sowing paddy and wait till the next two years.

The impact of deficit rainfall for four years has kept Chittoor at a level of minus 76mm by June.

The agriculture pattern took a severe beating in half a dozen mandals of the Madanapalle division, where field activity is absent in vast stretches.

For instance, except one borewell, all water sources have gone dry at a village in Peddamandyam mandal. In Gurramkonda mandal, the agricultural fields present a scene similar to that of a desert as farmers have abandoned sowing activity, after tilling the ground.

The weather prediction that there would be no rains in the district till October had a telling impact on the mindset of farmers this khariff season.

High risk

Gangadhar, a groundnut farmer in Gurramkonda mandal, said he had readied his three acres of land for sowing in May, expecting distribution of seeds from June. “We received the seeds in the last week of June. With no trace of rain, I decided to say goodbye for the present season. In 2017 and 2018, I suffered huge losses. Even if we want to take up alternative crops, we will be at a risk in the absence of rains,” he said. Over a dozen farmers expressed the same opinion in Gurramkonda and Vayalpadu mandals.

Deficit rainfall

Joint Director (Agriculture) N. Vijay Kumar said that the deficit rainfall in May and June had played the villain by delaying the sowing of not only groundnut but also other seasonal crops.

“At present, the average rainfall in Chittoor district stands at plus 2 mm thanks to brief spells in July. This has helped increase sowing from 30% in June to 70% till July end. Compared to last year, the acreage of both groundnut and other crops such as paddy has come down by 50% this khariff season,” the official said.

The Joint Director said that if rains evaded Chittoor till September, the khariff season could be a washout. “A positive feature is that very less number of farmers have gone in for paddy, as the climatic conditions are not congenial to it. The groundnut crop can sustain dry spells for a longer time,” he said.

Meanwhile, several officials of agriculture and allied departments and seasoned farmers expressed their anguish at the continuing drought situation in Chittoor district, while in the neighboring Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and Telangana and even in coastal and North Andhra areas, there were heavy rains.

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