Cultivation of paddy in the ongoing rabi season in Telangana is expected to come down by about 20 to 25 per cent because of persisting power shortage and depletion of groundwater table in the State.
The Agriculture Department in association with the power distribution companies is already running a publicity campaign in villages for over a month now discouraging paddy cultivation during the rabi season. Of the 13.09 lakh hectares of normal cultivation of all crops in the season, paddy alone amounts to nearly half of it at 6.5 lakh hectares with groundnut (1.7 lakh ha), maize (1.52 lakh ha) and bengalgram (1.08 lakh ha) being the other major crops.
Only about one lakh hectares out of the normal extent of paddy cultivated in rabi is under command area and the rest is cultivated under borewells. The Agriculture Department’s hope stems from the fact that the farmers had faced problems due to erratic power supply in kharif, though it did not affect paddy cultivation much.
“We are educating farmers in villages to go for irrigated-dry (ID) crops instead of water-intensive paddy crop, keeping in mind both power shortage and groundwater depletion. Farmers are being explained that production of one kg rice would require about 4,000 litres of water against 400 litres required by an ID crop. Income-wise too, farmers get Rs. 8,000 per acre for paddy and Rs. 11,000 per acre for an ID crop like maize”, B. Janardhan Reddy, Commissioner of Agriculture, said.
Fluctuation in power supply, particularly low voltage caused by overloading, has resulted in the burnout of about 15,000 transformers in Telangana during the kharif season. Besides, the groundwater table has dipped by an average of 2.7 metres till November-end this year compared to the same period last year.
Stress (exploitation) on groundwater is high in Medak district where it went down by an average of 5.61 metres followed by Nalgonda (5.04 m), Ranga Reddy (4.81 m), Warangal (3.86 m), Karimnagar (3.81 m), Nizamabad (3.8 m) and Adilabad (3.16 m). Only in Khammam (1.32 m) and Mahabubnagar (1.61 m) districts the average fall in groundwater table is less than 2 metres.