Hyderabad: With farmers in Telangana showing signs of nervousness over delayed onset of monsoon resulting in deferment of kharif crop season operations, agriculture department officials have been reaching out to them with advice on holding back on planting traditional crops such as paddy and instead explore shorter duration crops suited for the emerging conditions.
With the rain-bearing Southwest Monsoon progressing at a snail’s pace over peninsular India, farmers in some parts of the State, are getting increasingly desperate. In some other areas where irrigation is being made possible through some projects and summer rains have been a little more consistent, farmers are hopeful that they can beat the odds hoping that once monsoon sets it, any deficit in terms of water will be compensated for.
It may be recalled that in detailed instructions to the farming community late last week, Prof Jayashankar Agriculture University, Central Research Institute for Dryland Agriculture and the Agriculture Department advised farmers not to jump the gun and begin planting crops based on their experience of some isolated rains in some parts of the State.
In Nagarkurnool, one of the drier districts of the State, officials of the local Krishi Vigyan Kendra have been calling on farmers to have patience and prepare themselves for the delayed monsoon and plan for irrigated dry crops such as green gram, cowpea, horse gram, millets and other short-duration pulses.
And in Sangareddy district, officials have been calling on farmers to consult the local agriculture extension officers for advice on crop selection. Farmers would be better off choosing pulses and millets that require relatively less water in the event of the dry spell continuing for a longer period. District’s Joint Director, Agriculture, B Narasimha Rao, has said that they have enough stocks of pulses and millet seeds to meet the increased demand during this kharif season on account of the current weather conditions.
Similar efforts are on in the rest of the districts with officials asking farmers to plan for shorter duration paddy varieties where irrigation is likely to be available. However, farmers in several districts, are getting increasingly concerned as they wait for the rains. For instance, Kothi Shankar, a farmer from Gattepalli village in Karimnagar district hoped that the government efforts to fill irrigation and village tanks with water from larger projects will bear fruit quickly which in turn will help farmers like him grow crops as planned. “When this is done, then it will help us all and we can grow crops as we planned,” he said.
Ryots reeling under late monsoon
Warangal: Farmers in the erstwhile Warangal are a worried lot. Bhukya Kishan, from Wardhannapet mandal in Warangal Rural, said, “We would have sown cotton seeds already but have not done this so far. With no water, we are also not able to raise any paddy nurseries.”
Kishan Naik owns eight acres and sows cotton in five-and-a-half acres, with paddy taking up the rest. He has already purchased cotton seeds and fertilizer.
Veerati Linga Reddy, a farmer from Kommala village in Geesugonda mandal, is unable to raise paddy nurseries. “We are worried about the yield as the duration of crops comes down,” he says. He also plans to grow cotton in the eight acres he owns.
Reports from different parts of Warangal and Mahbubabad districts say farmers have already planted cotton in some 40 per cent of the area but their efforts have gone waste as there has been no germination due to the lack of water. The seeds were sown after the summer showers.
“Farmers should go for medium duration paddy varieties. For cotton too, they should go for the medium size cotton ball varieties. However, cotton can be sown till July 15 but they should wind up the crop by December-end as pests would attack the crop later,” said Srinivas, Assistant Director of Agriculture Department, Narsampet.
P Laxma Reddy
Farmers await finishing touch of rain
Mancherial: “Many farmers are tense over prospects of agriculture this season, following the delayed monsoon. They bought seeds of cotton, paddy and red gram. They readied their fields and have been waiting for rains from the first week of June. But late sowing of seeds will result in poor yields. The farming sector will reel under crisis once the district records scanty rainfall,” according to Kondapalli Sharath, a young farmer from Nandulapalli village from Nennal mandal in Mancherial district.
“Farmers are geared for sowing seeds at any moment of the time. They are anticipating for at least a spell of showers that enable them to begin the operation. They have completed preparatory works. They have already dumped organic fertilizers and cleared weeds in the agriculture fields. Some of them planted Jeelugu (bastard sago) crop, for strengthening the soil,” Bandari Punnam, Rachapalli in Chennur mandal told Telangana Today.
Meanwhile, Pall Chinnaiah from Nennal mandal said “banks are harassing farmers in giving loans and are taking a long time to process loan applications. They are seeking various documents and certificates of land ownership. Due to indifference of revenue officials, errors occurred in revenue records. As a result, many farmers are being made to run from pillar to post to get documents and certificates.”
Erraveni Gattaiah, a farmer from Narsapur village in Dandepallli said that the menace of spurious seeds of cotton was also looming large over the farming community. Despite adverse impacts on land, farmers are going for the fake seeds believing publicity of local agents and to avoid expenses in removing the weed. He sought authorities concerned to crack whip against the traders for selling such seeds.
Despite the challenges they are facing, farmers are happy to get assistance under Rythu Bandhu scheme. Many said they were no longer reliant on private lenders for buying inputs. “I have received the funds in my bank account. I withdrew the amount and purchased seeds of paddy. I am all set to sow the seeds once it rains for a brief period,” Kota Pocham, a farmer from Mallidi in Kannepalli mandal.
“According to kharif plan-2019, crops such as paddy, cotton, red gram, jowar will be raised in 3 lakh acres of land across Mancherial district. The required seeds and fertilizers are ready for distribution. The supply of seeds of crops meant for improving fertility of the soil has already been done. Awareness is created among cultivation of millets, organic farming and mechanisation,” Mancherial District Agriculture Officer Veeranna told Telangana Today.
Bhagya Laxmi, Agriculture Officer of Kumram Bheem Asifabad advised the farmers not to begin sowing operations, considering deficit rainfall this season. “Soil needs considerable amount of moisture which is possible only when the region records bountiful rains. Farmers should wait for some more days. They must carry out tests of fertility of the soil before sowing seeds,” she suggested.
Nalgonda farmers incur loss on cotton crop
Nalgonda: Delay in the arrival of rains will impact the prospects of yields of various crops if farmers rush to plant seeds and ignore the advice of scientists, Agriculture Department officials said. They warned that if farmers do not take into account the current dry spell and its impact on plant growth, they may end up with up a 30 per cent shortfall in the expected crop size.
Meanwhile, in some areas where farmers have already sown cotton, there are reports of the seeds not germinating, resulting in losses to them. According to some estimates, cotton seeds were planted in thousands of acres in the district.
A farmer had spent Rs 1,500 on average for procuring the seeds. Speaking to Telangana Today, G Narender, Scientist (Crop Production) at the District Agricultural Advisory and Transfer of Technology Centre, said the delay in monsoon would impact the kharif crop .
To avoid adverse impacts, farmers should take up cultivation of short duration varieties of paddy such as Bathukamma JGL-18047, Telangana Sona, RNR-15048, KNM-118 amd MTU-1010.
The crop varieties, which would take more than 150 days to give yield, would lead to a 30 per cent less yield in kharif season than the normal yield. It is better to avoid long duration and medium duration crop varieties for this kharif season, he said.
With the rains predicted to begin only around June 23 or 24, farmers should plan to plant irrigated dry crops. Agriculture Officer of Nalgonda, Vallapu Suman Raman, said farmers should take up agricultural works, including tilling of fields and sowing seeds, only after reporting of six to seven centimetres of rainfall within a gap of five days. But, thousands of farmers have taken up agricultural works and sowing after three centimetres of rainfall was reported in the district. In Nalgonda mandal, sowing of cotton seeds has been taken up on 3,000 acres in the last seven days, but 50 per cent of seeds have not germinated.
Mandadi Bhupal Reddy, A farmer from Charlapally in Nalgonda mandal, said they had planned to take up cultivation of paddy but due to delay in monsoon, he was forced to take up cultivation of cotton on his six-acre land.
Another farmer, P Shanker, from Bollepally village of Kattangur mandal, said he had taken up tilling of agricultural fields and was waiting to sow paddy saplings. He had developed paddy nursery, and if rains do not come in five to six days, the nursery would be unsuitable for sowing.
Early sowing of seeds escalates input cost
Nagarkurnool: Farmers across Palamuru region have been eagerly waiting for the monsoon rains to arrive, even as a few spells of rain in many areas of the five districts in Palamuru region – Mahabubnagar, Nagarkurnool, Jogulamba Gadwal, Wanaparthy and Narayanpet – in the first week of June, were enough to prompt many to plough their fields with some even sowing seeds.
Some have sown their crop expecting good rains this kharif season. However, this haste in sowing is now expected to escalate input costs of those who began operations early, agricultural scientists fear.
“We have been urging farmers to strictly wait until there is a minimum 60 mm rainfall before sowing, when at least 15-20 cm of soil gets enough moisture. Though there are many factors driving these uncertain climatic conditions, farmers need to prepare themselves for this delayed monsoon and go for irrigated dry crops like green gram, cow pea, horse gram, millets and other short-duration pulses to be on the safe side,” Dr Jagan Mohan Reddy, Scientist and Programme Coordinator at Krishi Vigyan Kendra, Palem told Telangana Today.
He even cautioned against crop like maize, which he said is very sensitive to excess or deficit rainfall conditions and would need to get irrigated for three or four times during crucial period of its growth. He however, suggested that in the meantime until rains arrive, farmers can grow green manure crops like sunnhemp, dhaincha, pillipesara and cluster beans and incorporate them into their soils after 30 days of growth to improve soil fertility.
Farmers have procured seeds of pulses and millets from KVKs and they are being educated about what to grow depending on the climatic conditions by scientists in the villages where they work, but more is needed to make farmers cautious, which needs to be done by agricultural officials.
“We have given seeds but we ran out. If farmers need these seeds, they will have to go to Indian Institute of Millets Research (IIMR) in Hyderabad to get seeds. If the State government can somehow find a way to provide millet seed to farmers (at least 50 quintals per mandal), farmers would be encouraged to cultivate them and they can be saved from uncertainty arising due to delayed monsoons,” opined Rajashekhar, Scientist at KVK Palem.
Wait for a few more days before starting cultivation, ryots told
Karimnagar: Farmers are eagerly awaiting rains to start cultivation this kharif season in the erstwhile Karimnagar district. While paddy farmers have readied seedbeds, cotton and other farmers are yet to begin the process.
Though farming operations were expected to begin in the last week of May, they have been put on hold with fears of lack of germination of seeds in view of the ongoing dry spell.
Besides millets in a small area, paddy, maize and cotton are the major crops being cultivated in old Karimnagar. While the agriculture department officials said paddy cultivation would continue up to August and cotton till next fortnight, farmers are worried that the yield would be hit if crops are sowed late. In the case of paddy, cultivation should be done within one month after formation of seedlings. Otherwise, they would be damaged.
Though a majority of the seedlings had reached the final stage and are nearly ready for replanting, they have not been cultivated in the fields due to lack of rains. Moreover, farmers have not even started tilling of lands as there is no water. Since a majority of the farmers depends on borewells, the sowing process has not started as all agricultural wells have gone dry due to severe heat weather conditions.
Moreover, the groundwater table has also plummeted drastically. Penchala Srinivas, a farmer, said usually five acres of land would get sufficient water if agriculture pumpset was operated continuously for five hours. However, at present, they are unable to wet even a single acre. A native of Gattududdenapalli of Manakondur mandal, Srinivas is cultivating paddy on his five-acre land. Though he has a well, he has not started cultivation due to lack of water in it.
Another farmer, Kothi Shankar of Gattepalli, said farmers would get yield both in terms of quality and quantity if they start the cultivation process in the last week of June. Otherwise, both would be affected.
Besides a tank, there are two ponds in the village but all the three water bodies are dry now. He urged the government to fill them by bringing water from irrigation projects through canals in the rainy season. “This would help us use water at the beginning of the season without waiting for the rains,” he said.
Agriculture officials have advised farmers not to start cultivation till there is sufficient rain. An official said paddy farmers cultivate crop up to August and there was another 15 days’ time for cotton sowing.
As the soil is much warmer following severe temperatures, seeds would die. Hence, they have asked farmers to wait for a few more days.
Administration makes available pulses, millet seeds
Sangareddy: With the district receiving little rainfall during the first half of June, considered crucial for taking up sowing operations, farmers in Sangareddy are literally looking towards the sky. Agriculture Department officials have also asked farmers not take up sowing operations since the lack of moisture in soil would severely impact any sprouting of seeds.
Speaking to Telangana Today, Kavali Narayan, a farmer from Byathole village, who holds four acres under Linga Swamy Kunta (a mini lake), said raises the nursery of paddy but there was no water in the lake due to lack of rains. He said that no farmer had taken up sowing of cotton or maize, the two main crops in the district.
Another farmer Malla Reddy Chinnagari, who holds eight acres of land in Lakdaram village, was seen removing the bushes at his farm on Tuesday. Malla Reddy cultivates paddy and cotton. He said the two borewells at his field had gone dry due to lack of rains for the last one year. Hoping rains early this year, Reddy said they have prepared their land for sowing operations, but the rain god has dashed their hopes.
The district has recorded just four rainy days and 50 per cent deficit rainfall until June 15.
B Narasimha Rao, Joint Director Agriculture, has urged farmers not to take up any cultivation without consulting local Agriculture Extension Officers.
Farmers have been asked to take up pulses and millet cultivation, which needs relatively less water. Rao said they had made available enough pulses and millet seeds for farmers.
T Karnakar Reddy
High temperature adding to woes of farmers
Nizamabad: ‘Aarudra Varsham, Amrutam Tho Samanam’, so goes a saying in Telugu. It means rains received during the ‘Arudra Karthe’ (phase) of the calendar are equivalent to the showering of nectar for farmers that results in bountiful crops.
But with this phase ending this Friday and rains nowhere to be seen over the erstwhile Nizamabad district, farmers are eagerly waiting for the monsoon to set in so that they can start agricultural operations.
A cross-section of farmers in the district expressed sadness over the current phase of scanty to no rains, and fall in groundwater levels as borewells are unable to pump any water up to the surface.
In Gupanpalli village on the city outskirts, farmers who ploughed their fields in anticipation of rains are now waiting for it.
In areas where some groundwater is available, farmers have prepared paddy nurseries, but the current high temperatures are resulting in poor germination rates. In some other areas, farmers have begun sowing leafy vegetables like spinach and fenugreek, to earn some money.
Sirigiri Lasmaiah, a farmer from Gupanpalli village, said that farmers measure season in Karthes as per the Telugu calendar.
“According to the calendar, Mirugu (Mrigasira Karthe) is over and Arudra is nearly coming to an end with Pedda Pushyam (Punarvasu Karte) beginning this Friday. In these two Karthes, farmers start agriculture works and complete plantation of crops but this year due to delay in monsoon, they are facing problems. Many are now opting for alternative crops like soya bean and maize. If rains are delayed this year too, then it will be hard for us to survive,” he said.
Chitikela Veera Reddy, also from Gupanpalli, said it is not just farming that has come to a standstill because of lack of rains. “People are also facing drinking water shortages and many bore wells are dried up. Thanks to Mission Bhagiratha water, we were saved this summer,” he said.
Mekala Govind, Joint Director of Agriculture, said due to lack of rainfall sowing schedule has been delayed.
“Farmers are sowing paddy expecting water from borewells. If rains are delayed, the Agriculture Department will make plan for alternative crops like soya bean and maize,” he said.
Shyam Kumar Madavedi