The absence of rains throughout August has sent out alarm bells ringing across India as the fate of standing kharif crops is now uncertain. Farmers and trade organizations say if the rains do not resume within the next few weeks, substantial crop loss is expected, especially in peninsular India.
SOPA, the Indore based soyabean processors association, has already raised the red flag over the long absence of rains. In its crop report issued on Tuesday, the body said, “There has been unprecedented shortfall in rainfall in August and while the crop has held on to its own till date, rains are required immediately. Any delay in rains will be detrimental to the soybean crop in the entire country. The extent of yield loss will depend on the revival of rains and it is premature to predict the overall crop today. All will depend on how the monsoon behaves in the next 45 days.” Soyabean, after cotton, is a major kharif crop grown by farmers in Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Karnataka and Rajasthan. As per SOPA, this year farmers have undertaken soyabean cultivation on 124.713 lakh hectares compared to 120.828 lakh hectares last year.
The major soyabean producers — Maharashtra (43.446 / 50.027) and Madhya Pradesh (50.661 / 53.351) — have reported an increase in soyabean cultivation. In its report, SOPA said the overall crop condition is good but if it does not rain immediately, drastic yield losses would be reported from both the major soyabean producing states.
“While the overall crop condition as on date is normal, immediate rains are required and in case of any delay in rains, the crop health will be adversely affected, causing lower yields, particularly in Marathwada, which has substantial area under soybean,” the report said.
For cotton, farmers had increased the area of cultivation from 122.56 lakh hectares last year to 124.82 lakh this year. The crop, as per the Central Cotton Research Institute’s report, is at various stages of development.
In Punjab, which goes for early sowing, cotton is in the boll formation stage while in Maharashtra, where sowing was delayed, the crop is between boll and square formation stage.
However, farmers across Maharashtra have complained of moisture stress, which if not attended to, will take a toll on their crops. The situation is especially bad in Marathwada, where farmers have started complaining of crop loss. Manikrao Kadam, state president of the farmers wing of Bharath Rashtra Samiti, has asked for immediate relief for farmers, who are on the verge of losing their crops.
In case of pulses, the standing tur crop is now facing moisture stress. This season, farmers had increased their acreage from 42.11 lakh hectares last year to 44.38 lakh hectares. But absence of rainfall has raised their concerns.
While moisture stress continues to hover over the country, a possible shortage in all produce has seen wholesale prices spiking. Thus cotton, which was trading around Rs 7,000/quintal, has shot up to Rs 8,500/quintal in most markets. Tur prices have crossed Rs 10,0000/quintal. Infact, almost all commodities have crossed the minimum support price and traders say this trend will continue in the coming days.