NELLORE: Due to scarcity of rain in past few years, the oil palm crop has decreased to 650 hectares, which was earlier cultivated in 3,373 hectares in the district.
Farmers had shifted to oil palm as an alternative due to poor yield in their previous crops, but now this alternative too, dying due to deficient rainfall (55 per cent in 2018 till now) and declining ground water level.
Farmers, who have been cultivating this crops and irrigating them with borewell water are also facing hardship. The difficulty in oil palm cultivation is being faced by the farmers of Kovur, Vidavalur, Kodavalur, Alaganipadu, Utukur, and Mudivarthi mandals.
“The oil palm cultivation, which was earlier seen as an alternative to poor Rabi or Kharif crops, has gone down due to deficient rainfall,” I K Raju, a farmer from Manubolu Mandal, said.
Oil palm seed is perennial and can be cultivated for 25 years if sowed once. “We have been taking measures to increase the cultivation and resolve the declining ground water problem,” Anuradha, in-charge AD of Horticulture department, said.
Few companies are also planning to increase the cultivation to 25,000 hectares within five years, she said. “The benefit of palm oil crop starts from the fourth year and then for next 20 years. The maintenance cost of the crop is `20,000 per acre, which has a minimum yield of `90,000,” Srinivasa Rao, Agri Head of 3F said.
The industry has identified 90,000 hectares of land, which can be used for palm oil cultivation. Of this, 25,000 hectares would be transformed into cultivated land in the next five years.