A dry spell after the initial monsoon showers has led to a rise in consumption of electricity by farmers in Gujarat over the last few days. Consumption has also risen in the wake of the state government’s decision to increase power supply to farmers for agricultural use, by two more hours, to a total of 10 hours daily.
The decision was implemented from July 10 and is to benefit around 12 lakh farmers.
According to data available with the State Load Dispatch Centre (SLDC), a unit of the Gujarat Energy Transmission Corporation, farmers consumed 441.9 million units of power between July 10 and July 15, a rise of 115.1 million units over the 326.7 million units consumed in the same period last year.
The PGVCL, a power distribution company of the state government that operates in Kutch and Saurashtra regions, is the largest supplier of electricity for agriculture, followed by UGVCL that distributes power in the north Gujarat region. MGVCL and DGVCL, which operate in central and south Gujarat respectively, supply comparatively less power for agriculture purposes.
Faced with delayed rainfall, farmers in the state are trying their best to mitigate loss to the standing Kharif crops that they sowed in the initial weeks of monsoon following good rains, by using generators to irrigate both standing crops and for sowing new ones.
According to the India Meteorological Department (IMD), Gujarat subdivision has received 54% below normal rainfall so far, while Saurashtra and Kutch subdivision has received 24% below normal rainfall.
Monsoon has been delayed over much of the state after heavy rainfall in the last week of June, which led the farmers to initiate Kharif sowing. Farmers sowed cereals, pulses, oilseeds and cotton, with the total area under cultivation jumping to 4.8 million hectares out of the total 8.5 million hectares available for cultivation in the state. Sowing in Saurashtra region alone is over on 3.3 million hectares area compared to 3.6 million hectares area available for cultivation, the latest crop sowing data compiled by the state agriculture department showed.
However, most Gujarat districts, except Amreli, have received below normal rainfall so far, making farmers worry about the fate of their standing crops.
“We sowed soyabean during the end of June and expected good rainfall this season, given that rainfall in the initial weeks of monsoon was encouraging. But as rains get delayed, we have no option but to depend on electricity for irrigation,” said Ranjit Chauhan, a farmer of Selamba village in Narmada district.
“An extra two hours (of power supply) has helped irrigation,” Chauhan said.
SLDC officials said that consumption of electricity in feeders meant for agriculture purposes was directly dependent on rainfall, especially during Kharif sowing season. “Farmers are consuming more power because of delay in rains. Those with agriculture feeder connection are currently dependent on power supply for irrigation, as they have to both cultivate standing crops and sow new crops. The demand will drop when there is rainfall,” said DB Joshi, superintendent engineer, SLDC.