By Syed Akbar
Hyderabad, Nov 18: Paddy production is likely to record a steep fall this rabi season with the State government discouraging farmers from taking up the crop. Even the paddy variety grown under the System of Rice Intensification (SRI) programme in the delta areas has failed to deliver the expected results in the just-concluded Khariff and farmers are sceptical about its prospects in the current rabi season.
So far this rabi farmers went in for paddy cultivation only in four per cent of the normal sown area. As on November 16, paddy was sown in 0.40 lakh hectares in the State as against 0.82 lakh hectares during the same period last year. The normal sown area under paddy in rabi is 10.17 lakh hectares and farmer activists fear that even 50 per cent of the cropped area will not be achieved thanks to the intensive campaign launched by the State government motivating farmers not to grow paddy in rabi.
Reports from districts indicate the low percentage of sowings took place in areas traditionally known for paddy cultivation. Only two per cent of rabi sowings (for all crops) is reported from East Godavari, four per cent in West Godavari, two per cent each in Krishna and Guntur and six per cent in Nellore.
This is as against 42 per cent in non-traditional areas in Visakhapatnam, 40 per cent in Prakasam, 64 per cent in Kurnool, 47 per cent in Anantapur, 68 per cent in Medak and 48 per cent in Mahbubnagar. Agriculture officials succeeded in motivating farmers to go in for dry crops as is evident from 37 per cent sowings (8.54 lakh hectares against normal of 23.11 lakh hectares). As much as 50 per cent of the sowings are completed in oilseed crops while only 20 per cent sowings are recorded for food grains (all varieties).
Referring to SRI paddy, water management expert KVGK Rao told Deccan Chronicle that farmers who went in for this variety in delta recorded poor crop in Khariff. "The rice variety needs less quantity of water. Since there were heavy rains in khariff, the crop was damaged. However, SRI will give better yields in rabi as there will be no major rains during the season," Rao said.
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