Drastic shortfall in cropped area in AP due to passive monsoon

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Hyderabad, Jul 2 (UNI) Even as some parts of the country are flooded by the Southwest monsoon, Andhra Pradesh suffers 39 per cent deficit rainfall, restricting sowing to only 5.66 lakh hectares in June.

The State as a whole had received 55.99 mm of rainfall till June 22 as against the normal 91.8 mm in view of the ''passive'' Southwest monsoon.

In the Khariff 2008 covering till September, only seven per cent of the normal 79.02 lakh hectares of area was sown till June 18.

Eight of the 23 districts faced shortage of 60 to 99 per cent in rainfall and another eight recorded 20 to 59 per cent deficit.

Only three per cent of the 18.78 lakh hectares in Rayalaseema, six per cent of the 39.24 lakh hectares in Telangana and 12 per cent of the 25.9 lakh hectares in coastal Andhra were sown, according to an official brief at the State Collectors' conference, which began here today.

''In view of the current passive monsoon, the Collectors are asked to closely monitor the sowing and prepare for a contingency plan with the assistance of the State agriculture department''.

The State Government is now pinning hopes on the Indian Meteorological Department's long range forecast for the 2008 Southwest monsoon season, predicting 99 per cent of long period average rainfall with a model error of plus or minus five per cent.

''The State will get sufficient rains in the rest of the season,'' State Revenue Minister D Prasada Rao exuded confidence, while briefing newspersons this evening on the two-day Collector's conference, chaired by Chief Minister Y S Rajasekhara Reddy.

The Chief Minister asked the Collectors to ensure that farmers, including tenants in large numbers, joined the improved crop insurance scheme launched in the State with village as a unit for assessing crop loss, he said, adding that institutional credit to farmers had been stepped up from Rs 9,060 crore in 2003-04 to Rs 22,650 crore now and banks have been asked to take over loans availed by farmers from private money lenders at a high rate of interest.

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