The revival of rains in the first week of August is likely to set the stage for an advanced Rabi season across Maharashtra. Instead of going for resowing of Kharif mid-August, farmers have decided to straightaway go for Rabi crops. The Rabi season starts from October-end, which also is the onset of winter.
Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis held a meeting with district collectors across the state Wednesday to review the rainfall and crop pattern. While there are still serious concerns over poor rainfall in the three districts of Latur, Osmanabad and Beed in Marathwada region, the prolonged monsoon predicted by IMD has revived the hopes of sustainable water tables.
“Initial reports suggest farmers are unlikely to adopt ‘dobar perni’ (resowing of Kharif crops),” a senior officer told The Indian Express.
The reports from almost all districts say farmers are set to advance the sowing of Rabi crops to the end of August or early September. Rabi crops are sown in winter and harvested in spring. The main crops are wheat, barley, sesame, mustard, peas, maize, linseed, gram, cumin, onion, tomato, potato and oat.
Usually, Kharif sowing ends by the end of June or the beginning of July. After the initial good rains this year, farmers across the state had undertaken Kharif sowing, but a long dry spell stretched over 25 to 45 days led to crop damage. The scarcity of water badly affected the cultivation across Maharahstra.
During his marathon interaction with district collectors Wednesday, Fadnavis issued directives to expedite the ongoing Jalyukta Shivar water conservation programmes in drought-hit villages. Out of the state’s total 40,000 villages, 25,000 come in the category of drought affected.
Sources in the Ministry of Agriculture said there had been 60 per cent Kharif sowing in the state, with the rest of the farmers waiting for sustained rainfall before making huge investments.
Anticipating a crisis, the government had kept a contingency plan ready to lend help to farmers by making provisions for seeds and fertilisers if they had to resow crops.
The state has also started cloud seeding experiment in parts of Marathwada. Even as Agriculture Minister Eknath Khadse is monitoring the experiment undertaken in Aurangabad and Latur districts, preliminary reports are not very satisfactory.
The cloud seeding experiment held last week at Yevala in Nashik failed.
Sources in the agriculture ministry said the purpose of the project was to make a last-ditch attempt to bring rains and salvage by mid-August the Kharif cultivation to some extent.
CM, Gov discuss irrigation projects
The state government has sought the approval of Governor C Vidyasagar Rao to allow the corporations to go ahead with irrigation projects, which were held back following revised administrative approval.
The government has decided to relax the guidelines — with the governor’s nod — to expedite the irrigation projects in the backward districts of Vidarbha and Marathwada. Despite allocation of funds in some cotton growing belts the project made no headway pending consent.
Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis, along with his Cabinet ministers, held a meeting with the governor at Raj Bhawan late Wednesday night. The other ministers present were Finance Minister Sudhir Mungantiwar and Water Resources Minister Girish Mahajan among others.
A senior minister said, “We urged him to allow us to give consent to respective corporations to take up irrigation works that were struck due to revised administrative approval, following escalation of cost and other related aspects.”
The government explained how 32 irrigation projects should be expedited to enhance the irrigation potential in Vidarbha, Marathwada and part of North Maharashtra.