Warangal Urban: Cultivating paddy does not merely mean food security, but also ensures fodder security to the cattle. In general, the hay from the harvested crop of the rainy season is not preferred as dry fodder for milch animals. It is the hay of the Yasangi (Rabi) season that is being used to feed cattle. Fodder availability for animals has been a perennial problem in large parts of Telangana, but with the greatly enhanced paddy production, this is not a problem anymore.
With the State witnessing rapid growth in farm mechanisation, from tractors to paddy transplanters to harvesters to hay (straw) balers, farmers are depending more on the machines due to different reasons, including shortage of farm hands. Though the usage of hay balers is not an entirely new phenomenon in the State, of late, the usage of them has increased manifolds.
Farmers mainly from districts like Karimnagar, Peddapalli, Nizamabad, Jagitial, and Warangal Urban, where paddy is cultivated as the main crop due to availability of water from SRSP for a long time, are going for the hay balers instead of manual labourers to collect the hay.
“Collection of the straw has become a tough task for the farmers due to the shortage of the farm labourers. Like using the harvesters to cut the paddy, we are also using the straw balers to collect the straw after harvesting. The collection of straw using the balers mounted on the tractors also saves time,” said D Srinivas Rao, a farmer from Veeranaraynapur village in Elkathurthi mandal in Warangal Urban district. He said the charges of collecting the straw using the machines are lower when compared with the wages of manual labourers.
Mamidi Nagaraju of Penchikalpet village, who owns a square baler, said that they are charging Rs 25 to Rs 30 per bale from the farmers. “It takes 50 minutes to one hour to make bales from the straw in one acre. Nearly 50 bales of the straw are produced from one acre,” Nagaraju added. Farmer has to bear another Rs 700 to Rs 1,000 to transport and make the haystack at his house.
There are two types of straw balers in the market now. One is round baler and other one is square baler. The price of the round baler is anywhere between Rs 2.75 lakh to Rs 3.75 lakhs, the price of the square baler is Rs 8 lakh to Rs 13 lakh. The balers pick up the windrowed straw and bundle it. The round bundles weigh 16 to 25 kg and the square ones 18 to 20 kg. “Though we used to offer 50 per cent subsidy on the balers in the past, no budget was released for the farm mechanisation for the last two years,” said Usha Dayal, Joint Director of Agriculture (JDA), Warangal Urban. An official with the agriculture department said that there is a demand for the straw from the dairy (cattle) farms located on the outskirts of Hyderabad city.
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