Farmers in Indian State Worried by Fungal Attack

by Gopalan on Sep 30 2007 12:33 PM

The Krishna delta in the southern Indian state of Andhra Pradesh is a main source of the staple diet of rice. In times of bountiful rains the region reports good yield of paddy – from which rice is extracted.

The paddy field does wear a green look now, but farmers are apprehensive of getting meagre yields in view of the fungal and pest attacks that followed the recent rains and cloudy weather.

Workers with sprayers slung on their shoulders can be seen wading through the waving greenery all around. The sprayings have become a must after the recent heavy rains caused stagnation of water for longer durations in the farm fields and, thereby, increased moisture in the air.

While paddy plants in Kankipadu and Gudivada areas turned partly reddish due to zinc deficiency, sheath blight disease, surfaced in some fields in Mudinepalli area because of water stagnation.

“Last year, I got only 20 bags of yield due to pest problem. This year, it is going to be another loss because of the present weather conditions. The cost of cultivation has also gone up,” says U. Bikshalu, a farmer at Velpuru near Kankipadu. Having raised paddy in five acres, he is now forced to use more fertilizers and pesticides to save the crop.

Boppana Jagadeesh, a young farmer at Pedapalaparru near Mudinepalli, is a worried man after the rains. The standing water has caused immense damage to some fields, including his three acres.

“We have undertaken clearing of field channels and drains to ensure free flow of water. The problem cropped up exactly when the crop is in a crucial stage of growth,” he explains.

But the state officials say there is nothing much to worry. Joint Director of Agriculture B. Vaman Goud says that deficiency of micro-nutrients might be the reason for the crop turning reddish in some areas.

Besides fungal and pest attacks are common in times of unfavourable weather conditions and they are easily controllable, he stresses.