On December 5, Cyclone 'Michaung' hit the coast of Andhra Pradesh with destructive winds and heavy rains, flattening thousands of acres of standing crops, inflicting huge losses on farmers in the state.
While the state government has assured compensation, the tenant farmers, a severely affected lot are not hopeful of relief as they believe it may not reach them.
They said the landowners may not share the relief sums with them.
According to information shared by the Nellore district administration, agricultural crops in more than 8,400 acres and horticultural crops in 1,700 acres were damaged.
In Krishna district, paddy crops in 17,000 hectares, groundnut in 903 hectares, black gram in 2,275 hectares and cotton in 213 hectares, among others were destroyed.
A statewide estimate of the crop loss is yet to emerge as a note from the Chief Minister’s Office (CMO) said agriculture and horticulture damage will be assessed after rainwater recedes.
Civil Supplies Minister K Venkata Nageshwar Rao visited the villages of Gopuvanipalem, Kondiparru, Tarakaturu, Arthamuru and Sultan Nagaram in Machilipatnam, and interacted with the farmers, an official release said.
“We have directed officials to provide crop insurance, input subsidy and also procure grains irrespective of the moisture content,” said Rao.
According to the Civil Supplies department, the government has procured 1.37 lakh metric tons of paddy through online mode and 1.1 lakh metric tons offline until Wednesday, paying Rs 1,070 crore to farmers.
If tenant farmers sell their paddy through a society, the government will pay them through those societies.
However, tenant farmers in the state are not pinning hopes on the compensation provided by the state government.
Gilli Venkeshwar Rao, a tenant farmer from Taderu village in West Godavari district told PTI: “Whatever compensation given by the government will only go to the owner of the field and not to the tenant farmer... Hardly 10 percent of those owners share that compensation with the tenant farmer.” Recounting the misery brought by the cyclone, Venkateswar Rao said though he harvested the produce before the rains began on December 3, the paddy got drenched in the showers.
He further said hundreds of acres of paddy fields in the nearby villages of Bethapudi, Taderu and Tundurru were flooded after the cyclone made landfall in the winter month of December.
Investing at least Rs 30,000 per acre, Venkateshwar Rao said tenant farmers were engaged in cultivation only to continue the way of life passed on to them from generation to generation, by their ancestors.
Noting that the flood water will take at least 20 days to recede from the fields, he said the cyclone has left the farmers in despair.
Gangumalla Venkat Rao, another tenant farmer from the same district, pointed out that the paddy will start sprouting, fish (guraka) will start feasting on the fallen and submerged sheaves.
“Paddy will also start rotting. It will be rendered useless. Further, the sheaves will stick to the wet mud and get sucked into the ground. And the heat will cause the paddy to germinate and sprout. It is better to plough it up. We cannot even recover the cost of harvest,” he rued, explaining the travails of an average tenant farmer.
He said kharif farm operations that were disrupted by rains are disturbing the regular farm cycle and affecting rabi schedules to further push them forward by a few weeks.
A delayed kharif will also delay the next rabi season, he added.
Nadella Trimurthulu, another farmer, stressed that the salvage operations will cost more and add up to the investment already made in kharif.
“We have reached a point where we cannot even have some straw as fodder for our cattle. Not only the crop is lost but we don’t have fodder for the cattle,” said Trimurthulu.
Lamenting over difficulties faced in carrying out farming nowadays, he said agriculture enthusiasts may end with their generation as their own children lack any interest.
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