ANANTAPUR: Despite tall claims by the State government that budgetary allocations to a tune of several thousands of crores have been made for the welfare of farmers, horticulturists in the sleepy village of Mukundapuram village in Garladinne mandal of the district have a different story to tell. Farmers in the village are forced to buy water spending thousands of rupees to save trees in their sweet lime orchards from withering away.
The population of Mukundapuram village is 2,500 and most of the residents are farmers. They took to horticulture 10 years ago and raised sweet lime and other fruit orchards in more than 1,000 acres. However, due to depletion of underground water resources, borewells have dried up and the farmers were forced to buy water to protect the orchards.
A farmer has to spend about Rs 30,000 to water trees in an acre of sweet lime orchard. Anticipating good produce, the farmers are spending thousands of rupees to buy water to save the trees. As many as 200 water tankers bring water every day from agriculture wells, located 5 km away from the villages.
Farmers have to pay Rs 150 for a tankful of water and Rs 1,000 for transportation. Every farmer buys six tankers of water per day. The farmers are spending Rs 12 lakh per day and over Rs 3 crore per month on water to protect their horticulture crops.
Adding to their woes, the officials have failed to release water to the HLC canal. This has worsened the irrigation water crisis. A meagre 275 mm rainfall was recorded in the drought-affected district. The underground water resources have fallen to an average depth of 25.7 m.
Official sources said that despite the district being drought-affected, fruit cultivation has been taken up in 4.41 lakh acres. Sweet lime crop is raised in 1.21 lakh acres, mango crop in 1.22 lakh acres and plantain crop in 32,000 acres. Horticulture crops in 3,000 acres have withered away due to lack of sufficient water.
A farmer Parandamaiah belonging to Mukundapuram village said that he had raised sweet lime in his 12 acres of land and is presently buying water to save them. He further said, “I am spending Rs 30,000 per day to buy water through tankers. I had to cut 800 sweet lime trees in the orchard as I could not afford the money required to water them.”
Ranganayakulu, a farmer who also belongs to the same village, said that he had sunk 15 borewells by spending lakhs of rupees only to find no water. He has spent Rs 2.5 lakh so far to buy water.
Horticulture Farmers’ Association president Siva Reddy lamented that officials had failed to provide water from the Handri Neeva and Tungabhadra rivers, leaving farmers in the lurch. The government had announced that money would be disbursed to farmers to buy water to save only sweet lime orchards. Farmers who raised papaya, sapota and plantain crops would not get any financial assistance from the government to save their crops.
He urged the government to announce financial assistance to all horticulture farmers to enable them to save their crops.