The extended monsoon is the latest worry for the farmers in at least four states of the country as key kharif crops, including pulses, oilseeds and cotton, are facing a threat of damage.
Sharad Bhalara from Jamjodhpur in Jamnagar district of Gujarat’s Saurashtra region is fearing nearly 50 per cent damage to his about 16-acres of groundnut cultivation. “We are unable to harvest because our fields are still water-logged. It has continued to rain over the past few weeks, though intermittently. This hasn’t allowed water to recede and soil to dry. There will be at least 50 per cent loss in our groundnut output, and and even greater damage in arhar dal and sesame seed crops,” Bhalara told BusinessLine .
Similar is the case at soy bean cultivation in Madhya Pradesh, where heavy rains has causedflooding. The crops are due for harvest in October. “The rains have caused a delay in the crop arrivals. There will be some damage, as it has been raining quite heavily over the past few weeks in soy bean regions of Madhya Pradesh. We can’t deny the damage due to rains. But the quantum of damage will only be known at our crop estimate numbers on October 10,” said DN Pathak, Executive Director, The Soybean Processors Association of India (SOPA).
However, SOPA believes that there will be no shortage of the seeds for the crushing, as the production is likely to be more than the requirement. The demand-supply of soybeans in the domestic market is expected to be stable even if there is some dent in the output due to rain fury.
According to the latest Government estimates for the 2019-20 kharif season, oilseed production is likely to be higher at 22.39 million tonnes as against 21.28 million tonnes reported in the fourth advance estimate for 2018-19. The kharif cotton output is likely to be higher at 32.27 million bales (each of 170 kg) as against 28.71 million bales reported in the fourth advance estimate last year.
The Centre’s crop projections have factored in the extended rain impact, and the pulses production is likely to be 3 per cent lower at 8.23 lakh tonnes as against 8.59 lakh tonnes.
Ramesh Bhorania, a farmer from Rajkot, believes that the damage will be more severe for sesame seed, arhar dal, soy bean and cotton.
“Against the expected higher production of sesame seed, due to water-logging on the fields, the seed and plants have started to rot. Same is the situation at arhar crop. The rains continued even during flowering period, and it has continued even now at some pockets. Cotton crop is a reason for worry too. Moisture in the cotton bolls has spoiled the prospects for a good crop. We believe cotton crop will not just get delayed by about 25 days, but the first picking will be a rain-damaged quality,” said Bhorania.
The groundnut crop has started getting infested with white fungus, which will spoil the groundnut seeds and affect the yield.
More rains likely
The Met has forecast for more rains. The forecast for next two weeks till October 2, 2019, showed continued monsoon activity over most parts of the country, including the key oilseeds and pulses growing regions of Rajasthan, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra and parts of South India.
“During the week September 26 to October 2, 2019, the rainfall activity is likely to increase over most parts of the country with normal to above normal rainfall except Karnataka, Rayalaseema and North Eastern States,” it said.
For the country as a whole, rainfall is reported at 861.1 mm, which is 5 per cent above normal average rainfall of 823.9 mm.
The oilseed growing regions of Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat, East Rajasthan have received excess rainfall in the range of 13 per cent to 55 per cent excess from normal rainfall for the respective regions.
The kharif 2019 sowing as on September 19, 2019, has pulses sowing at 132.99 lakh hectares, which is about 2.5 lakh ha lower than last year, but about 13 lakh ha more than the normal average. The largest pulses crop for the kharif season — Arhar (pigeon pea) sowing crossed 45 lakh ha, about 2 lakh ha more than the normal sowing. Arhar sowing was recorded 45.64 lakh ha.
Oilseeds, the other major kharif crop, have seen lower sowing at 178 lakh hectares as against the normal sowing of 181.96 lakh hectares. Last year, the overall oilseeds sowing stood at 178.17 lakh hectares. However, the largest oilseed crop, soy bean area reported an increase of about 1 lakh hectare at 113.45 lakh hectares, as against the normal sowing of 111.49 lakh hectares.
Groundnut sowing in the country stood at about 39 lakh hectares, against normal 42.44 lakh hectares.