The state government plans to carry out an audit of crops sown across the state to enable better planning in the wake of the recurring drought. The “crop mapping” would be undertaken both by teams on the ground and by using drones.
All the four agriculture universities in Maharashtra have been roped in for the exercise. Almost 62,000 students studying in these universities and colleges under it would take part in the exercise along with officials and the recommendations based on it implemented in the next kharif season. Teams would fan out across 40,913 villages in Vidarbha, Marathwada, North Maharashtra, Western Maharashtra and Konkan for the exercise.
Maharashtra Agriculture Price Commission chairman Pasha Patel said, “At successive meetings held to discuss climate challenges and recurring drought, Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis has stressed on evolving a mechanism that would enable farmers cope with the difficulties both in times of low and high production of crops.”
“Now, we suddenly see surplus onions flooding the markets. Or, there is a surplus production of soyabean and low production of pulses or oilseeds one year. The next year, the situation is reversed. So, the entire process of crop sown and yield is inconsistent making it difficult to regulate the price and markets,” he added.
Instead, the government, with agriculture experts and farmers, is trying to work out a formula where the crop pattern could be discussed almost two years in advance. Along with crop mapping, the government is also trying to ensure the climate change advisories are more accurate and reach 1.37 crore farmers across Maharashtra.
The kharif sowing in Maharashtra in 2018 was almost 147 lakh hectares. It was marginally lower compared to 2017, which was 150 lakh hectares.
The state economic survey 2018-19 has also outlined the government’s plan to tackle climate challenges and the need for better crop pattern management.
The government believes the crop audit is necessary in the state where 78 per cent of farmers have small and marginal land holdings. According to the agriculture census, “the average land holding of farmers decreased from 4.28 hectares (1970-71) to 1.44 hectares (2010-11). The average size of land holding for Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe was 1.27 hectare and 1.80 hectare, respectively…”