June 15, 2015 2:06:48 am
As the monsoon sets in and sowing of crops begins, the state government is issuing advisories to farmers — not about deficit in rainfall but the possibility of long gaps between spells of rain, which could affect crop growth.
Agriculture Minister Eknath Khadse said, “Growing vegetables and fruits would be our priority. This will give farmers something for daily survival, without too much investment, along with the main crops ahead of the kharif season.”
The government has urged farmers to tread cautiously on sowing seeds. Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis has asked district collectors to activate their machinery to reach out to remote villages.
Various measures have been taken to connect farmers through mobile phones so that they can receive updates of the Indian Meteorological Department as well as state advisories. A senior official in the agriculture department said, “Reports of rain deficit is not our real worry. We are prepared to cope with that. What is worrisome is the long gaps between two spells of rain, which affects the growth of the crop and leads to losses.”
Expected rainfall patterns are being studied to provide information to farmers on how to cope with long dry spells. Ongoing water conservation works will also help overcome the water crisis to some extent, sources said.
The agriculture official said, “The rain deficit should be less compared to last year. However, there are no contingency plans if there is no rain for a fortnight after sowing.”
Sources said the finance department may not be able to allocate the funds immediately required to provide alternative livelihoods like poultry farming or dairy to farmers, so it intends to promote horticulture.
Efforts are on to make a value chain to ensure the produce is taken to the market and a sustained income.
A circle of 10 to 15 villages are being clubbed as a hub for such activities.
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