Agri Business

Unseasonal rains spell trouble for Gujarat groundnut growers

Ahmedabad | Updated on October 31, 2019

Procurement to begin today amid fears of rejection due to higher moisture content

Even as groundnut farmers in Gujarat are gearing up for procurement operations that are set to begin from tomorrow (November 1), the cyclonic disturbance triggered by ‘Kyarr’ and furthered by the newly-developed ‘Maha’ cyclone is set to cast a dark cloud over the procurement process.

The groundnut-growing regions of the State have been witnessing thunderstorms since the beginning of this week.

After a bumper crop estimate, the Gujarat State Civil Supplies Corporation had announced procurement of the oilseed at the Minimum Support Price (MSP) under Price Support Scheme (PSS) from November 1, ending on January 30, 2020.

Over 4.5 lakh farmers have registered for the same. According to estimates from government and trade bodies, the groundnut crop in No 1 producer Gujarat is estimated in the range of 30-32 lakh tonnes for 2019-20, which is up by 101 per cent from 15.95 lakh tonnes (lt) reported last year.

The market prices of the oilseed have already tumbled to sub-₹4,000 levels in Gujarat, while good quality groundnut is quoted at ₹4,900 a quintal (as quoted on October 25). The markets are closed for Diwali and will re-open on Friday, November 1. The MSP for groundnut is fixed at ₹5,090 a quintal for 2019-20.

Groundnut farmers, therefore, are a worried lot with most of their crop either lying in the field or affected by the latest thunderstorms in Saurashtra and South Gujarat during the week. “No crop, anywhere in the State, is safe today. First, we saw excess rainfall in many areas, and as we try to recover from that shock, there is yet another blow with this extended thunderstorm. The weather is playing spoilsport with every crop and in such a scenario, farmers fear that their produce may fail the quality test for the procurement and ultimately will not get them a remunerative price,” Vitthal Dudhatara, President, Bhartiya Kisan Sangh (BKS)-Gujarat Pradesh, told BusinessLine.

Relief sought

BKS has also made representations to the State government seeking relief measures. “Insurance claims will only be cleared in cases of damages of 33 per cent or more. But we want the government to relax this norm and also include all affected farmers for insurance claims because everyone has paid their premiums,” Dudhatara said.

The State government, on the other hand, has acknowledged crop damage in as many as 44 taluks of 18 districts due to unseasonal rains over the last week. Chief Minister Vijay Rupani has ordered survey and assessment of damage in the rain-hit places.

Punamchand Parmar, Additional Chief Secretary, Agriculture, Government of Gujarat, said: “The survey will be conducted in two phases. The farmers who have obtained insurance and paid premiums will need to register their crop damage complaint with insurance companies within 72 hours. Once the complaints are received, within 10 days the insurance company and State Agriculture Department will jointly conduct assessment of the damage and the relief will be paid as per the rules.”

Insurers in action

Crop insurance companies have announced their toll-free numbers for farmers to register their crop-damage complaints. Insurers’ operating in the State include Universal Sompo General Insurance, Reliance General Insurance, Agriculture Insurance Company of India and Bharti Axa General Insurance.

In the case of farmers without any crop insurance, the State officials will begin the damage assessment survey from today and based on the assessment, relief will be given in line with the State Disaster Response Fund manual.

Published on October 31, 2019

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