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Andhra's agricultural crisis: Net sown area declined despite new projects; paddy cultivation falling year by year
The Andhra Pradesh Editors Association president VVR Krishnamraju expressed dismay over fall in the net cultivated land instead of increase in spite of about rupees one lakh crore being spent on irrigation projects in the state during the last four years.

In a joint media meet organized at Vijayawada by the Jana Vahini founder-president DSNV Prasadbabu and himself at Vijayawada, he further stated that it was a sorry situation that the 'Rice Bowl' state was losing its sheen with the steady shortage in the area of the food crop cultivation. Socio-economic surveys conducted on the subject for 2016-17 and 2017-18 periods revealed that there was a regrettable decrease of the area by about 4 lakh hectares.

While there was a whopping 38.86 lakh hectares of gross cultivable land in 2014-15, it declined to 35.47 lakh hectares in 2015-16 and there was a further shortfall of 34.26 lakh hectares in 2016-17, Krishnam raju said. Thus there was a reduction of 22.02 lakh hectares (66.71 lakh acres) during 2016-17.

While the net cultivable land in the state is mere 66 lakh acres, it was ridiculous on the part of the chief minister Chandrababu Naidu to boast that cultivation would be undertaken in one crore acres this Kharif season, Krishnamraju added.

Pointing that there was a steady decline in paddy production in Kharif seasons, he stated that it was 78.50 lakh tonnes in 2016-17 while it fell to 76.45 lakh tones in 2017-18. The millers and traders in the state are forced to purchase paddy and rice from the neighbouring Telangana state as the stocks were inadequate in the home state.

Instead of increase in the ayacut despite inauguration of six new irrigation projects and shelling down of hundreds of crores of public money for payment of power bills on the lift irrigation projects, the ayacut has deplorably decreased in the state.

In the last four years the government spent Rs 52,000 crore and allocated over Rs 50,000 crore to the farm sector in the budget. Krishnamraju expressed anguish that we are unable to put to effectively utilize the available ayacut in the state while the neighbouring Telangana state either standardized 20 lakh acres of ayacut or created new ones.

Krishnamraju said that the Maharashtra and Telangana governments entered into an agreement last year for construction of reservoirs on Godvari at Rajupeta, Pimprad, Chavaka-Korata, Tummidihatti and Kaleshwaram (Medigadda). Sounding a note of caution, he alerted that Godavari delta would not get water from January to April next year if the projects were completed.

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