Trial and error

  • 14/03/2009

Farmers adapt to changing weather by switching crops

Farmers who have to live with the reality of unpredictable rainfall are trying to cope as best as they can. They are experimenting with different crops to see what works. And each time they start new field trials, they incur debts. In Andhra Pradesh, where intense rainfall incidents are increasing, farmers are growing fruit orchards. In Chhattisgarh, where average rainfall is decreasing, farmers are growing pulses and sorghum that require less water.

Andhra Pradesh
Intense rainfall but less water

Adi Narayana, a farmer living in Mukundapuram village in Garladinne mandal of Anantapur district, used to grow millets and sorghum on his 1.4 ha farm. Twelve years ago he shifted to groundnut cultivation when the area began to receive above-normal rainfall over longer periods. Groundnut cultivation is rainfed and Narayana thought he would make some profits.
Rainfall data shows Anantapur was getting 143 days of rainfall a year between 1991 and 2001 as against 98 days between 1961 and 1990.
But severe droughts between 2001 and 2004 and frequent intense rains in the following years ruined his crops. He realized he was spending Rs 10,000 to grow a crop that earned him just Rs 5,000. He decided to reduce his risk and grow sweet lime that is not dependent on rains and is less labour intensive. He sunk a borewell to irrigate his fields.
Like Narayana, other farmers in the district too started growing sweet lime trees after the intense rains in 2008 destroyed their groundnut crop.
When Narayana sold the first sweet lime harvest in 2008, he earned Rs 50,000.

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