Agri Business

Truant monsoon spells trouble for soyabean in Central India

Vishwanath Kulkarni/ Subramani Ra Mancombu Bengaluru | Updated on July 11, 2021

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Trade sees lower acreage in MP; higher area in Maharashtra, other states

For farmers like Sunil Mukhati and hundreds of others near Indore in Madhya Pradesh, gazing at the skies as soon as they get up every day, has become a sort of ritual over the past couple of weeks.

“We have been looking at the sky every morning these last few days, hoping that we will get some showers today at least,” says Mukhati, a soyabean grower. It has been 20 days since he has planted soyabean on his 10 acres. “We badly need rains over the next 4-5 days to save the young plants,” he says.

Parts of Madhya Pradesh, the soyabean heartland, have been receiving drizzles now and then, but it is not considered adequate as the progress of monsoon has been stalled.

“Some of my friends are yet to sow soyabean as they are looking for at least 4-5 inches of rainfall,” Mukhati says. Farmers in MP are hesitant to plant soyabean, the main oilseed in the region, as they are wary of losing the seeds in case of crop failure. “Seed costs have been very high at ₹9,000-10,000 a quintal,” he adds.

This, in short, is the story of soyabean planting this kharif season with farmers in Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Maharashtra waiting for the “break” in monsoon to get over.

According to IMD, the cumulative rainfall in MP from June 1-July 8 was eight per cent lower at 178 mm, while in Rajasthan it was down by 28 per cent. However, in Maharashtra, the total rainfall was 2 per cent more than normal for the period. Since July 1 till date, the rainfall deficit was 82 per cent in MP, 84 per cent in Rajasthan and 70 per cent in Maharashtra.

“Soyabean is deeply affected by the weather behaviour this year. There is a lot of concern as we never had this kind of a scenario wherein farmers faced severe drought situation during the germination and seedling growth stage,” said Dr Nita Khandekar, Director, ICAR- Indian Institute of Soyabean Research (ICAR-IISR), Indore.

Also read: Erratic monsoon affects Kharif sowing

ICAR-IISR is waiting for the actual sowing details from the Agriculture Department, although it is expected that soyabean would have been planted in about 60 per cent of the area in MP, the largest producer of the oilseed. Soyabean is normally grown in over 5 million hectares in MP and the sowing goes on till mid-July.

Besides MP, Khandekar said, the moisture stress is also seen affecting farmers in other states such as Maharashtra and Rajasthan. Farmers may be forced to take up resowing of soybean, but availability of seed may be a challenge.

“The monsoon has been delayed and we are still waiting for the rains. Right now, there is a big deficit. We are expecting rains.. If it rains now, it will have no significant impact, but if it doesn’t then nobody can say anything,” said D N Pathak, Executive Director at Soyabean Processors Association of India (SOPA), the apex trade body for the oilseed.

Pathak said the sowing is almost complete but delayed in parts of Rajasthan and MP. “In Maharashtra, we are expecting a 12-15 per cent increase in area, while in other states it can go up by 10 per cent. The area would be lower in MP as farmers are seen shifting to pulses and maize. Overall, we expect a 5-7 per cent in soyabean acreage this year,” Pathak said added.

BK Singh of BKSys that runs Fasal Faisla app said: “As of now soyabean sowing has been affected by hot weather and seeds shortage. Rains expected over the next couple of days could help. Some farmers had sown soyabean soon after pre-monsoon showers. They may have to sow again”.

Crop sowing data

Soyabean sowing is complete in about 82.14 lakh ha as on July 9 as compared to 92.36 lakh ha in the same period last year. Though the acreages are lower by 11 per cent over last year, the sowing is higher by over 52 per cent when compared to the preceeding three years.

Statewise details of soyabean were not released by the Agriculture Ministry.

While figures were not available for MP, in Rajasthan, the oilseed has been planted in about 4.11 lakh hectares (lh), almost half of same period last year’s 8.13 lh. In Maharashtra, the acreage is about 35 lh and in Karnataka at 3.43 lh, higher than previous year. Gujarat has also seen an increase at 1.26 lh (78,923 hectares) while in Telangana, the acreage is lower at 2.61 lh (3.6 lh).

Last year, soyabean was planted on 118 lh of which MP accounted for 58.51 lh, followed by Maharashtra at 40.39 lh and Rajasthan 11 lh. Other States such as Karantaka, AP, Telangana, Gujarat accounted for the rest.

As soyabean got high prices last year, many farmers have been prompted to look at soyabean. Currently, spot prices are hovering around ₹7,500 per quintal. The Centre has announced an MSP of ₹3,950 for soyabean for the current season to June 2022.

While lack of rains is a concern, the issue of poor germination that farmers faced last year, due to spurious seeds is largely not there this season. “There are hardly any complaints of poor germination, but the three-to-four-week gap in rainfall is a concern,” Dinesh Kulkarni, secretary, Bharatiya Kisan Sangh. 

Kulkarni said the area under soyabean in Maharashtra is seen going up by about a tenth, while in Madhya Pradesh it is assumed to have come down by 10-15 per cent due to the crop diversification. A clearer picture will emerge within the next couple of weeks.

Published on July 09, 2021

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