Drought May Hit Crop Out­put Across South In­dia

Ef­fect of drought has been se­vere in Andhra Pradesh and Te­lan­gana, es­pe­cially in rice grow­ing re­gions

The Economic Times - - Economy - Kr­ish­naku­mar.PK @times­group.com

Kochi: Drought in south­ern states has af­fected the cul­ti­va­tion of ma­jor com­modi­ties like rice, cot­ton and spices. Pro­duc­tion of these com­modi­ties is likely to come down sharply if the ab­sence of sum­mer rains pre­vails, ex­perts said.

The ef­fect of drought has been se­vere in Andhra Pradesh and Te­lan­gana, es­pe­cially in the rice grow­ing re­gions.

“Per­haps for the first time in the last 20-25 years, the Na­gar­juna Sa­gar dam has not be­come full, hin­der­ing ir­ri­ga­tion ac­tiv­i­ties. In Kurnool dis­trict (Andhra Pradesh), the rains are de­fi­cient by 30% and over 1 lakh hectares of rice cul­ti­va­tion have been af­fected,” said Dr Sahdev Reddy, prin­ci­pal sci­en­tist of Acharya N G Ranga Agri­cul­tural Univer­sity. Prakasham, Kr­ishna and Gun­tur dis­tricts too have been drought hit. In Te­lan­gana, Kham­mam and Nal­go­nda dis­tricts have come un­der the grip of heat wave. Apart from rice, spices such as chill­ies and turmeric, and cot­ton are the prin­ci­pal com­modi­ties grown here. Chilli prices are al­ready rac­ing to a new high at .₹ 125 per kg with 20% to 30% fall in pro­duc­tion.

“In Kar­nataka, hardly any rabi sow­ing has taken place. The kharif crop was good. Rice, chilli, cot­ton and maize are the chief rabi crops,” said Ravipati Pera­iah, man­ag­ing di­rec­tor at Vi­jayakr­ishna Spice Farms.

Parts of Tamil Nadu bore the brunt of sur­plus rains dur­ing last Novem­ber-De­cem­ber. The un­timely rains and the dry weather later have played havoc with crops like rice and cot­ton. The cot­ton pro­duc­tion is ex­pected to fall. “In Tamil Nadu, ex­cess rains and drought may drag the out­put down by 40% from 5-6 lakh bales last year,” said Ra­maswamy, chief ex­ec­u­tive at In­dian Cot­ton Fed­er­a­tion.

Pro­longed dry weather with­out sum­mer rains is threat­en­ing to hit pep­per and car­damom crop in Ker­ala. Black pep­per out­put, which is al­ready down by 25% to 40,000 tonnes from the tar­geted pro­duc­tion, is ex­pected to fall fur­ther next year.

“Nearly 60% of the to­tal 140 mil­lion hectares of cul­ti­vated area in the coun­try is rain fed and there are 400 in­com­plete ir­ri­ga­tion projects across the coun­try. If at least some of these projects are com­pleted and a crop­ping pat­tern to con­serve wa­ter adopted, farm­ers wouldn’t face such wa­ter crisis ev­ery year,” said P Chen­gal Reddy, sec­re­tary gen­eral at Con­sor­tium of In­dian Farm­ers’ As­so­ci­a­tion.

Not A Drop to Drink

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