Commodities

Cropping pattern to change on lower rainfall

Vishwanath Kulkarni New Delhi | Updated on April 29, 2014 Published on April 29, 2014

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Seed makers see cotton, maize acreage gaining from farmers’ choice of ‘dry’ crops





A lower-than-normal monsoon may trigger a shift in cropping pattern this year, mainly in the South where farmers could plant more “dry crops”, such as maize and cotton which require less water.

“The prediction of a lower-than-normal rains may not have a significant impact on kharif plantings but could spell concerns for the rabi season if rainfall is less and soil moisture gets affected by low water levels in the reservoirs,” said M Prabhakar Rao, Chairman and Managing Director, Nuziveedu Seeds Ltd.

Fibre’s gain

Rao, who is also the President of National Seed Association of India, said that he expected cotton acreage this year to go up by about 5 per cent, as farmers in Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka may plant more of the fibre crop.

Last year, cotton was planted on about 11.35 million hectares. Cotton and maize require relatively less water compared with paddy.

Echoing Rao’s views, Arvind Kapur, Managing Director of Rasi Seeds’ vegetable seed division, said the acreage under corn and cotton could see a rise, mainly in Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu.

Rasi Seeds, which earns a bulk of its ₹400-crore revenues from Bt cotton hybrids, had acquired the corn seed business of Bayer Bioscience in India.

“We are looking to sell about 8,000 tonnes of hybrid corn seeds this year,” Kapur said.

El Niño threat

In its first official forecast, the India Meteorological Department last week said that the South-West monsoon would be a tad lower than normal, while predicting a 60 per cent probability of El Nino’s occurrence.

This could trigger dry spells and possibly result in drought. The monsoon is crucial to the country’s agriculture as about two-thirds of farm lands are dependent on rainfall.

Meanwhile, the Agriculture Ministry and input makers, such as the seed and crop protection companies, are gearing up to meet any eventuality arising out of the potential El Nino.

“Crop plans of Karnataka, Punjab and Haryana were reviewed last week. We plan to take up the exercise for other States soon,” a senior official in the Agriculture Ministry said. The Central Research Institute for Dryland Agriculture has already prepared contingency plans for about 500 districts.

“We are keeping an ear to the ground so that if there is a necessity for alternative cropping, we can quickly move the materials,” said V Shankar, Managing Director and CEO of Rallis India, which is into seeds, agrochemicals and fertilisers.

However, companies such as Insecticides (India) Ltd see a marginal decline in their business in the event of lower rains.

“Consumption of agrochemicals could come down by about 10 per cent,” said Rajesh Aggrawal, Managing Director of Insecticides (India) Ltd.

Published on April 29, 2014
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