The farmers of Kadapa district are hit badly with drought conditions in 33 out of the 51 mandalds, where less than normal rainfall was recorded during June, July, August and September months.
Since the beginning of the season, the district had received only scanty rainfall and farmers had taken up cultivation in only 1,01,984 hectares against the normal 2,11,513 hectares. As the dry spell continued crops started withering away.
A week ago, district collector V Anil Kumar asked revenue officials to assess the crop loss for sending a report to the state government. At a recent meeting with officials, minister for health DL Ravindra Reddy told officials to send a report urging the government to declare all the 51 mandals in the district as drought hit.
Groundnut is a major crop in the district. However, due to scanty rainfall, farmer had taken up groundnut cultivation in only 37,400 hectares against the normal 1,12,154 hectares. In absence of timely rainfall, 75 percent of the crop withered away. Losing all hope, farmers are harvesting the crop prematurely to use it as cattle fodder.
Speaking to Express, M Srinivasulu Reddy, a farmer at Aratipalle village in Muddanur mandal, has said each groundnut plant had only two or three nuts and even they are not in good shape. Farmers are not in a position even to pay the labourers, leave alone for the borrowed seed, fertiliser and pesticide, he said.
Per hectare, a farmer invests `35,000 towards input costs and wages of labour, expecting 30 bags of yield and `50,000 income. But the rain god had dashed our hopes of even getting back the investment, he said.
District Rythu Samakhya leader D Chandramoulishera Reddy has accused the state government of deciding against release of water into KC Canal for extraneous reasons, despite Srilsailam reservoir having sufficient water. He also criticised the district ministers for failing to bring pressure on the government to get water. If the government releases water at least now, the farmers can take up the cultivation of alternative crops, he said.
Crops like cheeni, banana and papaya are grown in the district in considerable acerage. Due to scanty rainfall and dried up bore wells, the orchards are also withering away, forcing the farmers into debt.