WANAPARTHY: The determination of the farmers belonging to Chinnamandadi village in Peddamandadi mandal to shift from paddy and groundnut cultivation to vegetables, has found political and administrative support. With that push, the agricultural landscape of not only this village but also nearby villages is changing for the better, with the horticultural area increasing acre by acre.
It all started before the pandemic, when Surya Chandra Reddy, the sarpanch of Chinnamandadi, led by example and started growing tomatoes, brinjal, broad beans, ivy gourd, tomato, green chilies and leafy vegetables on his farm, to prove that vegetable cultivation is indeed profitable. This motivated the other farmers also to start cultivating vegetables.
In January 2021, with support from Horticulture Minister S Niranjan Reddy and Horticulture Commissioner Venkatram Reddy, a pilot project was initiated in Peddamandadi mandal, where 100 acres were initially targeted for vegetable cultivation. Around 90 per cent subsidy for drip irrigation, 50 per cent for mulching sheets and 80 per cent for four lakh seedlings was provided by the Horticulture Department’s Centre for Excellence at Jeedimeetla to not only 25 farmers from Chinnamandadi, but also to some farmers from Alwal, Peddamandadi, Dodaguntapally, Cheekarichettu Thanda and Mundhari Thanda.
A series of meetings between farmers, regular visits from local horticultural officials, field visits from Mojerla Horticulture College faculty, and trial-and-error of farmers have resulted in around 50 acres producing vegetables in these villages in just six months. In the next phase, another 50 acres will be added.
The ryots are currently selling their produce in santhas (weekly markets) in the district and have also been allotted a separate stall in Wanaparthy’s integrated market by Collector Shaik Yasmeen Basha.
They have also requested the administration to provide them a four-wheeler to transport surplus vegetables to Hyderabad, after meeting local demand. “As we can harvest the present crop till December, we will start planting new seedlings in one more acre in October, so that the second crop will be ready to harvest by February and so on. This way, we will have work throughout the year,” said Mannem, a farmer who has already recovered his investment of Rs 60,000 from his one-acre agricultural land.
“The idea is to inculcate a culture of growing vegetables by first retaining the 50 acres being cultivated, and then adding another 50 acres and more, achieving the goal of transforming this area into a hub for vegetable production,” Chandra Reddy told Express. As most of the vegetables are procured from Ananthapur, Chittoor, Kurnool and Bengaluru, developing some villages close to NH 44, is logistically feasible for vegetable production and transportation, he added.