The state government has sought the services of agriculture universities to provide expertise on crop patterns with a definite timeline adaptable to climate change to help the farmers in the drought-hit districts of Vidarbha and Marathwada. The decision is to minimise the losses incurred by farmers in investments made in agriculture sector, specially in the 14 drought-hit districts of the state. Notwithstanding the drought declared in 28,000 villages, the state government has geared up to take advantage of the good monsoon forecast from June 10.
The IMD reports provided to the state agriculture department suggests an average rainfall of 106 per cent across Maharashtra. It has indicated higher than normal rain at 138 percent for eight districts of Marathwada.
Three leading agriculture research universities have recommended that farmers should start the process of sowing all kharif crops between June 15 to 30. However, all three reports of the Mahatma Phule Agriculture University, Marathwada Agriculture University and Punjabrao Agriculture University, caution farmers against making huge investments in udit (cereal) and bhuimoong (cereal).
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Chief minister Devendra Fadnavis has directed district officials to complete the process of providing the soil health card to farmers in the next two years instead of three as was scheduled earlier. To capitalise on the good monsoons, several steps have been initiated such as provisions for disbursement of higher loan amounts from bank and enhancing the crop insurance loans to provide security to farmers.
The projection for 2016-17 is marginally higher with sowing across 152 lakh hectares of land compared to 148 lakh hectares in 2015-16.
There are efforts under way to bridge the gap between the food grain shortfall of 25 to 30 per cent which was registered in year 2015 in the coming year 2016-17.
A flow chart along with crops to be taken up between June 15 to 30, July 8 to 15, August 1 to 7 and August 7 to 15 has been compiled region-wise which would be shared through the agriculture department using the mobile network through district collectors and gram panchayat levels. Under the banner of ‘shektakri mitra’ (friends of farmers), a network to connect farmers’ forums with local administration which would periodically deliver the inputs is being strengthened.
Agriculture minister Eknath Khadse said, “We have already made provisions of adequate seeds and fertilizers.” For coming kharif seasons, the requirement is for 14 lakh quintal seeds and provision has been made for 17 lakh quintal seeds, he said. Similarly, for BT cotton, the requirement of 160 lakh packets is being supplemented with 200 lakh packets.
Amongst the traditional crops which are being recommended to farmers in drought-hit districts are soyabean, jowari, bajra, sunflower, tur dal and ragi (mid-July to mid August) among others. However, there is also emphasis on promoting intercrops and short crop cycle to bring better remunerations to farmers.
A special drive to help small and marginal farmers to reduce their investments in agriculture is also being rolled out by the government.
The agriculture department is working to provide them technological know-how to ensure higher production of yield. There is a lot of emphasis laid on micro irrigation mechanism for water management and also on better quality of crops and horticulture produce.