Elite section of farmers does not mind paying upto Rs. 10 lakh to purchase well-bred Ongole cattle and rear them out of sheer love for the majestic animal.

But the average farmer at the grassroots level is forced to sell away their ‘unproductive’ cattle in order to keep the productive ones in fine fettle, thanks to severe fodder shortage in drought-hit Prakasam district.

It is between the rivers of Gundalakamma and Paleru, the world famous Ongole cattle flourishes. The dairy products produced in the drought-prone district have a unique flavour in view of the Total Soluble Solids Content (TSSC) in them.

Faced with drought condition for the third consecutive year, dairy farmers in Prakasam district have adopted to lean production technique to ensure that milk production is not adversely affected during this summer. More and more farmers are selling their old and infirm cattle in the market at Markapur, Santhanuthapadu, and Singarayakonda from where they make it to abattoirs in, among other places, Hyderabad, Chennai, and Mumbai by lorries. It leads to jacking up of the price of a tractor-load of paddy straw (1.50 tonne) to Rs. 15,000 from Rs. 6,000 last year, says Andhra Pradesh Rythu Sangam Prakasam district secretary D. Gopinath while talking to The Hindu.

Dairy Farmer
                           Dairy Farmer

Fodder shortage

Fodder shortage this year is very severe as farmers have failed to take up paddy cultivation in over 2.50 lakh acres in the district both under Krishna Western Delta and Nagarjunasagar command areas in the wake of dwindling inflows into the State reservoirs across the river Krishna, he says.

Meanwhile, Animal Husbandry Joint Director N. Rajinikumari puts the fodder shortage in the district at 63,465 tonnes.

The department has chalked out a Rs. 40-crore fodder contingency action plan till June 2016 to mitigate the hardship of the farmers who relay on dairying to offset the loss in farm production, she says.

Milk production in the district has been 9.05 lakh tonne in the first three quarters this year as against 8.73 lakh tonne during the corresponding period last year.

“Providing all-needed support to farmers, including 32,300 tonne of fodder at subsidised rate of Rs. 3 per kg and concentrated feed, we will definitely be able to meet milk production target of 12.22 lakh tonne this year,” she says.