New Delhi: Federation of All India Farmer Associations (FAIFA), a non-profit organization representing the cause of millions of farmers and farm workers of commercial crops across the states of Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Karnataka, Gujarat etc. today urged Honorable Prime Minister to take swift action to bring relief to farmers hit by cyclone Nivar.
Cyclone Nivar that hit south India on November 25 has threatened both the lives and livelihoods of lakhs of farmers and farm workers in the region. The heavy rainfall dumped by the cyclone has caused extensive damage to paddy, FCV tobacco, chilly, Bengal Gram, cotton and horticultural crops in coastal districts of South India / Andhra Pradesh necessitating farmers to go for fresh plantation in some regions where restoration of the crops has been ruled out.
According to Mr. Murali Babu, General Secretary, Federation of All India Farmer Associations (FAIFA), said, “the Nivar cyclone has damaged crops in 4.9 Lakh hectares in the state of Andhra Pradesh alone. This include thousands of crores worth of damage to 3.25 Lakh hectares of paddy, 42,000 hectares of Black gram, 21,000 hectares of Cotton, 63,000 hectares of Bengal Gram and some other crops in 449 Villages of 13 districts. Additionally, the cyclone left horticultural crops in about 23,000 acres damaged causing an estimated loss of Rs 128 crore as per initial estimates / initially and affecting over 17,000 farmers engaged in cultivation of fruits and vegetables, flowers, chillies, bananas, tomatoes and rearing livestock.”
Incessant rain due to the cyclone Nivar has particularly turned to be a bane for FCV tobacco farmers and Vinukonda Burley farmers of Prakasam and Guntur Districts where freshly sowed samplings, less than 60 days old and planted across 10,000 Hectares, have been adversely impacted due to water logging. Water inundation was also noticed in the middle and late plantations in 5000 Hectares. The impact is so severe that the assessment of damage to the leaf and infrastructure is still in progress. In burley growing regions of Guntur and Prakasam districts where harvesting commenced in more than 7,500 Hectares there was a complete leaf loss in curing barns. Also, due to unexpected heavy rains and high winds, 5 million Kgs in curing is exposed to rotting, quality deterioration.
In Northern Light Soil regions of FCV tobacco crop, considerable delay is expected for rest of the plantation as the incessant rains have flooded the fields a few weeks after completion of sowing operations. To recoup the losses, incurred during last cropping season when corona virus-induced lockdown coincided with the peak marketing season, farmers’ have no other option than re-plantation, which involves additional expenses.
Yashwanth Chidipothu, National Spokesperson, Federation of All India Farmer Associations (FAIFA), said,” Cyclone Nivar has caused one of the biggest-ever losses to agriculture sector in any disaster in South India. We are still evaluating the extent of the loss which could be in the range of hundreds / thousands of crores. We are also trying to impress upon the government to provide immediate economic relief package to farmers. This is important to ensure survival of farmers in these difficult times.”
FCV farming community is already facing business losses of over Rs 6,000 crore, with a drop in Flue-Cured Virginia (FCV) tobacco production from 325 million kg in 2014-15 to 210 million kg in 2019-20. Their situation got further worsened due to Covid-19 pandemic and just when they were trying to recuperate from the heavy economic losses, spell of heavy rains last week just after the plantation season has further dampened farmers’ confidence with significant loss. This can be understood from the fact that out of more than 30,000 hectare that has been planted in traditional tobacco growing region (Prakasam, Nellore and West Godavari), 50% of the crop has been heavily impacted due to submergence.
In this regards, the office bearers of FAIFA and farmer leaders of all FCV and Burley tobacco growing regions of Andhra Pradesh / South India also met Shri Y. Raghunadha Babu, Chairman of Tobacco Board to take up the issue of improving the plight of FCV and Burley tobacco farmers with Hon’ble Commerce Minister and push for economic relief package for them.
FAIFA urges the Honorable Prime Minister to pay attention to the extreme pain and injury that is being faced by farmers in the region and take steps provide relief and restore farmer’s confidence.