In the first sign of an adverse impact of the deficient monsoon on agriculture this year, the ongoing “crop-cutting” exercise to estimate the yield by government and crop insurance companies in Amreli district has indicated a drop of around 30 per cent in the yield of cotton and groundnut against the seven-year average production of these two important cash crops of Saurashtra region.
“While in pockets and fields where farmers have managed to irrigate their crop, yield has been found good. But overall, across the district, we have observed that yield of cotton and groundnut is around 33 per cent less as compared to the average of last seven years as it did not rain in the latter half of the monsoon and there is shortage of irrigation water,” Amreli Collector Aayush Oak told The Indian Express on Thursday.
The crop-cutting exercise in Amreli district started around two weeks ago and is likely to go on for three more weeks. Representatives of insurance companies, district panchayat and farmers are jointly conducting the crop cutting experiments under the supervision of revenue officers. The exercise is important because if yields are low as compared to the last seven-year average, farmers become eligible to get insurance claims.
“Overall, we have to conduct around 1,500 crop-cutting experiments across the district to assess the yield. In the past two weeks, around 400 experiments have already been conducted and in most talukas, it has been observed that the yield is 33 per cent low where there was no option of irrigation. But wherever they have been able to water their crops, the production is high. For example, in farm in Khambha taluka, the cotton yield was assessed to be 12 kg and groundnut yield 4 kg. But at other places, it was as low as 260 grams also,” Oak added.
Farmers in Amreli have sown cotton in 4.02 lakh hectare (lh) out of the total 5.55 lh sown in the district. Thus, cotton accounts for more than 72 per cent of total kharif crops in the coastal district and is around 16 per cent more than 3.47 lh sown in Surendrangar. Groundnut makes up for another 1.07 lh in Amreli. While coastal Rajula and Jafrabad talukas were flooded in July this year after extremely heavy rain, Amreli as a district received only 77 per cent of its long-term average rainfall during the south-east monsoon season.
The yield estimates in Amreli does not augur well for farmers of Gujarat, the largest cotton and groundnut producing state of India. It also comes in a season when Surendranagar, the traditional leader district in cotton acreage and production has seen a drop in acreage due to drought-like situation. It has received only 42 per cent rainfall this year. In fact, six of its 10 talukas have received less than 40 per cent rainfall.