The delayed arrival of monsoon has directly impacted the sowing of Kharif crops this season in Gujarat where the rainfall deficit is over 61 per cent. By the end of June, farmers in the state have sown only 4.5 per cent of average 85.65 lakh hectares covered annually.
Compared to the 13.54 lakh hectares that were sown at the end of June 2017, this year, only 3.8 lakh hectares have been sown. Over 63 per cent of the 3.8 lakh hectares have been sown cotton by farmers in the current season with Surendranagar district topping the list.
As per the government record, 37,900 hectares have been sown cotton in Surendranagar district, followed by Banaskantha (25,800 ha), Botad (24,000 ha) and Morbi (23,000 da) districts, reveal data from the state agriculture department. While the farmers have sown cotton, figures from the India Meteorological Department reveal that the shortfall of rains in these districts during the month of June (till June 27) is between 57-90 per cent. For instance, Surendranagar received only 8 mm rain, compared to the 83 mm it usually receives by this time of the year.
In comparison, the other major oilseed crop — groundnut — has been sown in only 62,000 hectares and most of it is in Junagadh (13,300 hectares) and Gir Somnath (11,300 ha). So far, the coverage of cereal crops is just 3,256 hectares and that of pulses 8,184 hectares which is 0.24 per cent and 1.42 per cent, respectively of the three-year average. “The sowing has been slow to pick up this year largely due to the delayed onset of monsoon. In the coming days, we expect the sowing to increase,” said a state government official from the agriculture department. During the ongoing Kharif season, farmers in Saurashtra have sown the maximum area (1,58,600 hectares), followed by those in North Gujarat at 1,35,000 hectares.
Sowing is yet to commence in districts like Valsad, Dangs and Surat which has already received more rainfall compared to other parts of the state. Sanjay Patel, a rice farmer from Kanij village of Kheda district says, “Sowing as been delayed compared to last year. Like all the others in our village, I too will be sowing paddy in a few days time.”
So far 1,581 hectares of paddy has been sown in the state compared to a seasonal average of 7.82 lakh hectares.