Hyderabad: The first month of monsoon has turned out to be the worst in years for farmers, especially in coastal Andhra Pradesh that has had very little rain because of a truant southwest monsoon. Hardly 30 per cent sowing has been done so far and with no rains, even that has dried up. Consumers are bound to be left high and dry with food prices rising steeply.
We met Kittappa, who was preparing a small patch of land to sow seeds and grow paddy saplings. There has not been much rain but he plans to keep the saplings ready, just in case it rains. He can't afford to lose an opportunity.
"We get the crop only with rain. There has been very little rain so far. By now, plants should have grown quite high and it should have been time for spraying. But unfortunately, it is looking very bad. Last years, excess rains took away the crop and this year, it is no rains,'' says Kittappa.
Andhra Pradesh and Telangana have recorded a worrying 69 per cent and 58 per cent departure respectively from what is called the Long Period Average. Rayalaseema, which normally records little rainfall, has had a nine per cent negative deviation.
Krishna, East and West Godavari districts are practically the rice bowl not just for the state but for the entire country. But ploughing of fields in most areas has not been done, let alone the transplantation of paddy saplings.
Farmers say the kharif crop ensures the people don't go hungry. Papamma, another farmer says there is no work under MNREGA during kharif season and with no rains, there is no work on the farm.
Satyanarayana explains that without this paddy crop, there is no food for anyone. "Every farmer in coastal Andhra depends on this kharif crop. If we miss this, there is nothing else, what will we eat?"
With sowing delayed and an anticipated sharp fall in cropped area, millers and traders expect price of rice in open market to go up by 10 rupees per kg in near future.