The onset of southwest monsoon in time, perhaps for the first time in a decade, has given impetus to farm activity in Prakasam district. But acute labour shortage due to COVID-19 situation has proved to be a dampener for ryots who have begun kharif cultivation with great hopes this year thanks to 43.1% excess rainfall in June and July.
For the second year in a row, the district after a gap of nine years, has been receiving good rainfall spurring farm activity in the early phase of the monsoon itself. Usually, kharif and rabi cropping seasons overlap in the drought-prone district in view of delayed onset of monsoon.
The good storage of 314.28 tmcft (52.28%) as against 169.15 (28.14%) during the corresponding period last year in the reservoirs across the Krishna river has kindled hopes among farmers coming under the Krishna Western Delta (KWD) and Nagarjunasagar Project Right Bank Canal(NSPRBC) ayacuts in the district.
Crop area to go up
Crop coverage during kharif so far is highly encouraging. We expect it go up significantly during August, says Agriculture Joint Director P.V. Sriramamurthy in a conversation with The Hindu.
The kharif acreage target has been raised by about 25,000 hectares to 2.44 lakh hectares due to good rains. A section of farmers in and around Martur have switched over to groundnut crop in kharif pushing Bengal gram to rabi.
The department expects the red gram crop coverage to go up by 21,000 hectares to touch 99,000 hectare mark, adds Mr. Sriramamurthy.
However, tobacco cultivation is likely to come down by about 20% this year as the farmers had difficulty marketing their produce this year due to the lockdown.
Farmers are hoping against hope that the authorities will ensure at least 10 tmcft to KWD and 60 tmcft to NSPRBC this year taking into account the floods in the Krishna early, says farmer leader Ch. Ranga Rao.
Though the weather is conducive for farm operations, the labour shortage is giving sleepless nights to farmers. The lockdown to combat coronavirus has severely hampered inter-State and intra-State movement of farm workers. Migrant workers from West Bengal, Odisha and Uttar Pradesh have not arrived as also those from the districts of Srikakulam, Vizianagaram and Kurnool, he adds.