Rains as a result of cyclone Vayu have come as a blessing for farmers like Prakashsinh Khuman, who had sown over a 100 bighas of the cotton crop in the Mota Agariya village of the Amreli district in Gujarat.
“Last month, we took the risk of sowing the cotton crop. We had water in our bore well, so we did the first irrigation using it. The cyclone rains will help the crops to sprout,” said Khuman, narrating the predicament of farmers in Gujarat where a delayed monsoon and the existing drought conditions have delayed the sowing of the Kharif crop this season.
It has been slow off the blocks with farmers sowing only 56000 hectares in Gujarat till June 10, as per data from the state’s agriculture department. Though the current sowing accounts for less than one percent of the average sowing in the state, farmers believe that the rains triggered by Vayu will prompt others to start the sowing process, especially in Saurashtra and North Gujarat. “It is not just me, our entire village has sown cotton, and there were chances that our calculations would have gone wrong,” the farmer from Amreli remarked.
In the last 24 hours till Thursday morning, cyclonic activity brought rainfall to several regions in North Gujarat including Patan, Banaskantha, Sabarkantha, Mehsana, Aaravali and Gandhinagar, ranging between 45-11 millimetre. Similarly, districts in Saurashtra like Devbhoomi Dwarka, Junagadh, Bhavnagar, Amreli, Gir Somnath, Porbandar, Rajkot and Jamnagar received between 11-25 millimetre of rainfall.
However, other farmers feel that some will delay the sowing despite the cyclonic rains. “The Kharif sowing is already late in Gujarat. Usually, it begins with cotton farmers who use water in their wells to sow the crop around mid-May, they water the crop twice before the monsoon arrives. This year, their wells were dry and most of them did not even begin sowing. Despite these rains, most farmers will not begin the process as there is a risk of crop failure if the onset of monsoon gets delayed further. If they had water in their wells, they would have taken the risk. But that will not happen this year,” said Sagar Rabari, a farmer leader and head of Gujarat Khedut Ekta Samiti.
“As far as the groundnut crop is concerned, the sowing usually takes place around June 10-20 when the first showers arrive. So this year, both the cotton and groundnut crops are delayed, which will impact the yield,” Rabari added.
Of the 56000 hectares sown in Gujarat so far, surprisingly, Saurashtra has accounted for most of the Kharif sown at 22000 hectares, while farmers in North Gujarat have sown 18300 hectares. In total, over 40000 hectares belong to cotton, while 5200 hectares are for groundnuts. Surendrnagar alone has sown cotton in 12800 hectares, while all six districts of North Gujarat have sown an equal amount. 2500 hectares of the groundnut crop has been sown in a single district of Jungadh.
Parts of Kutch and South Gujarat have also received rains, but the Kharif sowing has been minimal. Lakhpat in Kutch district received 11 millimetre of rainfall, while districts in South Gujarat like Kheda, Tapi, Surat, Navsari and Dangs received between 38-13 millimetre till Thursday morning.