Despite the lockdown, farmers in Gujarat have sown summer crop in over 8.91 lakh hectares this year, which is 35 percent more than the previous year. Farmers have sown 300 percent more onions, 200 percent more sesame and 175 percent more urad this summer.
According to the state agriculture department, over 8.91 lakh hectares were sown as of April 13, 2020. This is not only more than the 6.62 lakh hectares sown in 2019, but also more than the three-year average sowing of 7.58 lakh hectares during this time of the year.
Bajra covers the maximum ground this season with farmers undertaking sowing activities in 2.51 lakh hectares. This is eight percent more compared to last year. Banaskantha (1.52 lakh hectares) has the lions share of this crop, while Anand (24,800 hectares) and Kheda (19,300 hectares) in central Gujarat are among the top three districts as far as sowing area is concerned.
Interestingly, even water intensive crops like paddy (54,700 hectares) saw a 89 percent increase in the acreage, with districts which having irrigation facilities, like Ahmedabad (17,000 hectares) and Kheda (14,000 hectares). topping the list. This summer, owing to the availability of Narmada water, the state government had decided to provide water for 15 more days till April 15, including areas covered by Kharicut and Fatehwadi canals in Ahmedabad district that do not fall under the Narmada command area. The state government had also given instructions to allow farmers to visit their fields for planting the summer crop and also get access to agricultural inputs like fertisers and pesticides.
“Farmers in Saurashtra do not have much access to Narmada waters. Half of Surendranagar and Botad districts get covered under the Narmada command. The rest of Saurashtra has to largely depend on water from their tube wells or dams built on smaller rivers like Shetrunji. A good monsoon and cyclones, that passed near the state in October and November, ensured that there was plenty of water available for farmers to attempt the summer crop. The situation was very different during this time in 2019, when there was little water available due to poor monsoon in the previous year, 2018,” said Sagar Rabari, head of farmer body Khedut Ekta Manch.
The data from the state agriculture department also shows that while farmers in Bhavnagar and Amreli have sown 300 percent more onions than they did last year, crops such as sesame, maize, moong, urad and groundnut have seen 100-200 percent increase in the acreage. Most of these four crops have been sown by farmers in Saurashtra. For instance, the peninsular region of the state accounted for 52,400 hectares of the total 56,500 hectares of Sesame sown this summer. Among the districts, Junagadh topped with 13,900 hectares of the crop.
Groundnut saw a 109 percent rise in sowing compared to last year. Farmers in Banaskantha in north Gujarat accounted for nearly 20,000 hectares of the total 57,000 hectares of the oilseed crop sown in the state.
Apart from onions, farmers planting vegetables also saw a 23 percent growth with 84,600 hectares covered largely in districts of central Gujarat like Anand.
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