The demand for groundnut seeds, being sold with a 40% subsidy in the State, has come down as the farmers are switching over to other lucrative and dependable crops in erstwhile undivided Anantapur district.
As per the Agriculture Department figures, 1,41,892 farmers have shown interest to buy 1,21,818.6 quintals in both Anantapur and Sathya Sai districts, while the target sale of 30% of likely need of the seeds is 2.35 lakh quintals.
Even out of those showing interest, only 54,257 farmers have lifted 45,564.6 quintals, which is just 1/3rd of the quantity registered by the farmers in Rythu Bharosa Kendras.
Jwalapuram village in Sri Sathya Sai district is an example of how the groundnut cropped area has reduced from 70% of available land five years ago to just 20%.
A farmer from Jwalapuram, Narasimha Reddy, told The Hindu on Tuesday that out of a little over 2,000 acres of cultivable land in the village, castor is sown in 1,000 acres.
Per acre cost of cultivation of groundnut is now ₹35,000, and that too, with a high risk of failure, while the investment in castor is relatively low at ₹10,000 an acre with assured income/return, the farmers point out adding that there is also no threat from animals as they do not like castor plants.
Groundnut is grown in 200 acres, while red gram, Bengal gram, and other crops are sown in 800 acres in the village. The village has adopted the new variety of castor seed ICH-66 that has been giving consistently good results all over the district. Based on demand from farmers, the ARS Rekulakunta officials procured 2 tonnes of ICH-66 seeds which saw a high demand on Monday, said Centre Head B. Sahadev Reddy.
“I have grown castor in 3 acres for the past two years and got a yield of 7 quintals per acre. The total expenditure on seed per acre is only ₹800 (2 kg of castor seeds per acre), compared to a minimum of ₹6,000 needed for groundnut seed alone and expenditure on other post-sowing activities,” said Mr. Narasimha Reddy.
Currently, the castor seed is purchased at ₹25 to ₹30 a kg, which gives a good profit and uncertainty is also less, the farmer explained.
Another farmer, Kumar Reddy, from Ipperu in the Kalyandurg area, which is predominantly groundnut and paddy sown area, has switched over to castor sowing ICH-66 variety with good results last year and was given ICH-5 seed free of cost for testing by the scientists.