ONGOLE: To help tobacco farmers gradually shift to other crops--as the state government looks forward to discourage tobacco cultivation--the Acharya NG Ranga Agricultural University (ANGRAU) has prepared a list of alternative crops that can be grown by them.
Fourteen mandals of the district are selected for the first phase of the programme’s implementation.
On the basis of ANGRAU’s suggestions, the district agriculture officials are now mulling on how to create awareness on alternative crops among farmers and how to influence them to take up cultivation of those crops.
The mandals that have been identfied for the schedule’s implementation are Kurichedu, Chandrasekhara Puram (CS Puram), Podili, Darsi, HanumanthuniPadu, Veligandla, Konakanamitta, Donakonda, Pedacherlopalli, Pamooru, Kanigiri, Peddaraveedu, Marripudi and Markapuram.
“Thorough research on the nature of soil and its characteristics have been completed,” an ANGRAU official.
Since the past few years, the tobacco farmers have been incurring losses as they neither get good yields nor is there any suitable minimum support price for the produce.
Though they want to shift to alternative crops, their names registered with the tobacco board and at the ITC auction/ purchase centres are posing great difficulties.
Moreover, they have established barns, which are essential for the curing of tobacco leaves. In addition, many of them have availed bank loans to meet the expenses of the cultivation.
As such, they are demanding Rs 10 lakh as compensation for each tobacco barn.
ANGRAU authorities have suggested chilies, cotton, jowar, fodder jowar, maize, millets and pulses like ragi, red gram, Bengal gram, black gram, peanuts, coriander, green gram, oil seeds like castor oil, sesame seeds, groundnut etc. crops and hybrid vegetables, jute etc., along with other horticulture crops, depending on the local land and nature of its soil and other elements it has, as alternative crops.
“Even the farmers have been wanting to shift to other crops for long. Due to several reasons, they are unable to do so. Now, we are also mulling taking up certain programmes to create awareness among the tobacco farmers,” an Agriculture official explained.