The state government has urged farmers not to rush the sowing of kharif crops till July 20. The advisory comes in the wake of a long dry spell after the first rainfall in mid-June in nearly 300 of the state’s 355 talukas. The total sowing of kharif crops in the state till June 10 was only 35-40 per cent, according to the ministry of agriculture, and preliminary reports suggest farmers in several talukas, where sowing was done in mid-June, fear a crop loss.
In almost 80 per cent cases, farmers may have to go for a second sowing. Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis, during an interaction with farmers on Sunday, had expressed concern over the changing monsoon pattern. “Up to 35-40 per cent of kharif sowing has taken place. But I would like farmers to strictly follow the advisory issued by the government before sowing the crops. They should closely monitor the rain pattern to avoid double-sowing.”
Although IMD has predicted a good monsoon this year, the gap of 20-25 days between two spells of rainfall in 300 talukas has the government worried. Agriculture Minister Pandurang Phundkar said, “We have been very consistent in issuing the advisory to farmers to update the weather forecast along with crop patterns.” The state government uses text messages to keep the farmers updated. As a result, almost 60 per cent farmers across the state have exercised caution not to rush with the kharif crops.
Phundkar admitted that a second sowing leads to increased expenditure as farmers have to purchase seeds and pay for labour cost. But, he indicated that if there are good rains by July 15, most crops that have been sowed till now would be salvaged. A ministry official said, “The sowing trend shows farmers have taken up soyabean and cotton. Whereas, paddy that requires plenty of water has not begun. The farmers have decided to wait till July-end.” IMD reports indicate that the monsoon is likely to stretch till September-end. The last kharif season sowing (2016-17) was on 152.12 lakh hectares of land.
The year before, the sowing was on 150.8 hectares. In 2016, the total rainfall was 94.9 per cent of normal. Of the 355 talukas, 58 talukas received deficient rainfall, 216 talukas received normal and 81 talukas received excess rainfall. The deficient rainfall was noted in 21 talukas in Nagpur, 12 talukas in Pune, 10 talukas in Nashik, nine talukas in Amravati and three each in Aurangabad and Konkan division. The state government’s Rs 34,000-crore loan waiver has helped to bring all the farmers within the institutional credit mechanism thus making them eligible to avail the fresh crop loan.
The decision has helped to get rid of exploitation of farmers by private money lenders, Fadnavis said on Sunday. The chief minister held an interaction with the farmers in ‘Mi Mukhyamantri Boltoy’ on loan waiver and its implications in agriculture sector. Almost 40,000 questions were received on the subject from farmers across 40,913 villages in Maharashtra. While claiming that total investments in agriculture sector would in his tenure of five years (2014-2019) would surpass the past records of 50 years, Fadnavis said, “Rs 34,000 crore loan waiver to 89 lakh farmers would reach the truly deserving and genuine individuals. The linking of Aadhaar to individual farmers bank account would ensure financial institutions don’t misuse the funds.”