DESPITE TUR daal (pigeon pea) glutting markets last season and the subsequent crash in its prices, sowing of the crop remains high this kharif season too. According to data from the agriculture department, tur has been sown on 4.25 lakh hectares till now, amounting to 34.3 per cent of the total land under its cultivation. During the same period last year, sowing of tur was 34.1 per cent, indicating that there may be almost no change in the crop production this year.
Last season, prices of tur had fallen drastically due to bumper production. Farmers were unable to realise even the MSP of Rs 5,100 per quintal, with thousands selling at as little as Rs 2,800- Rs 3,000 per quintal. The agitation for the continued state purchase of tur was the precursor to the wider farmers’ agitation that took the state by storm.
Meanwhile, amid the protests and the confusion over who qualifies for the farm loan waiver, sowing in the state seems to be going on unaffected. Against the backdrop of a good monsoon, where four of Maharashtra’s revenue divisions have received more than their average monthly rainfall, 48.82 lakh hectares of land has been sown till July 3.
During the kharif season, the area to be sown under principal crops stands at 1.52 crore hectares in Maharashtra. Till July 3, 32.1 per cent of the total area has been sown. Interestingly, the figure for the same period last year stood at 27.4 per cent, with only 41.70 lakh hectares of land sown. The state agriculture department has set a target of sowing on 1.42 crore hectares of land for this season.
Sowing has been the highest for cotton — on 18.87 lakh hectares — which is 45.6 per cent of the total land on which cotton is grown. It has been the least for cereals at 19.1 per cent, with only 6.84 lakh hectares sown. Of the many sops announced by the state for the farmers this year is the direction to all all national, commercial and district central cooperative banks to disburse Rs 10,000 as loan to facilitate sowing of Kharif crops before June 30.
In a clear departure from norms followed in the past, when banks extended loans after ascertaining the eligibility of each individual farmer, they are now accepting self-declaration forms from farmers to issue the loan. The sowing has also taken place in the backdrop of a strong monsoon so far. The state on an average gets 223.3 mm of rain in June. It received 218.5 mm this time, which is 97.9 per of the normal rainfall in June. Four revenue divisions of the state — Konkan, Marathwada, Nashik and Pune — have received more than their average share of rainfall in June. Only Amravati at 89.2 per cent and Nagpur at 62.1 per cent have received normal rainfall.
“These are early days so far. We need to see if this pace sustains over the next few months. Moreover, sowing is not the parameter of the success of a season. Everything may be lost without adequate rainfall,” agricultural activist D Giridhar Patil said. “Healthy rain so far had precipitated the rate of sowing. By the looks of it, this rate will be maintained, but it also depends on the rain in the coming month. The spike in sowing of cotton is because of an early entry of monsoon into the region,” Ganesh Borgave, an agricultural activist from Nanded, said.