Delay in rains hits sowing operations in Andhra Pradesh

June 24th, 2009 - 8:46 pm ICT by IANS  

Hyderabad, June 24 (IANS) The delay in rains that prompted rituals to appease the gods across temples in Andhra Pradesh Wednesday has hit paddy sowing but agriculturists are hopeful that the situation would improve in the coming days.
The sowing operations in the fertile Godavari delta, known as the rice bowl of the state, have been hit by the delay in rains. The two districts of East and West Godavari together account for paddy cultivation in 300,000 hectares.

The delay in releasing water through irrigation canals has also led to farmers in the delta area not raising paddy nurseries.

Though the southwest monsoon set in early, there have been hardly any rains during the last three weeks, prompting Chief Minister Y.S. Rajasekhara Reddy to urge Hindus, Muslims and Christians to hold special prayers for rains.

Responding to the appeal by the chief minister to propitiate the rain god Varuna, special fire rituals, or yagnas, began in major temples across the state. Special prayers for rains will also be held in mosques and churches.

According to the weatherman, the monsoon set in on June 5 but there had been no progress. This had pushed the mercury up to over 40 degrees Celsius in most parts of the state.

The prolonged dry spell has not just affected sowing operations for the kharif agriculture season, but also electricity supply to farmers who are not getting seven hour uninterrupted supply as promised by the government. The situation is getting worse as hydel generation has come down due to lack of inflows in reservoirs.

Though farmer leaders want the government to be ready with a contingency plan to tackle a possible drought, they say there is no need to panic yet.

“The monsoon usually arrives in the state by June 12 but for the last one decade the state is receiving rains only by July 15. So, I don’t think there is need to press the panic button. We should wait for two to three weeks,” S. Malla Reddy, secretary of the Andhra Pradesh Rytu Sangham, told IANS.

He, however, said the agriculture sector was already facing problems due to inadequate electricity supply and lack of supply of quality seeds.

“The government should ensure uninterrupted power supply for nine hours a day and supply quality seeds to small and marginal farmers with 100 percent subsidy as being done in Kerala, Tamil Nadu and West Bengal.”

Farmer leaders said the delay in rains may force more farmers to go for dry land agriculture or switch over to commercial crops.

The state, which has 10 million farmers, achieved food grain production of an all-time high food of 204.04 lakh tonnes in 2008-09 and it has set a target of 214.87 lakh tonnes in 2009-10.

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