While Marathwada is reeling under sever drought conditions, Vidarbha is set to have one of its best Kharif harvests in recent years after well spreadout rains in the region.
The Nagpur revenue division has received 75 per cent rains, till date, and the Amravati division has received 89 per cent rain. All the major crops like cotton, soyabean, tur and orange are in a good condition, according to officials. Paddy, however, will require a few more good spells in the coming days to be at its normal standing in some pockets where the transplantation was taken up late.
With at least two substantial spells expected, the condition would only improve, the officials said.
“Vidarbha received 75 per cent rains, but because it was well spreadout, the crops are in a good condition at this stage. Paddy, grown in all the five districts, Nagpur, Chandrapur, Bhandara, Gondia and Gadchiroli, however, is stunted in some pockets, but it would get better with a few more spells, expected later. Even if it doesn’t rain, the shortfall in production will not be more than 15 per cent,” said V N Ghawate, joint director, Agriculture, Nagpur division.
Besides paddy (7.67 lakh ha), Nagpur division farmers grow cotton (5.78 lakh ha), soyabean (3.44 lakh ha) and tur (1.7 lakh ha). Amravati joint director of Agriculture S R Sardar said, “The division received 89 per cent rains that have been generally well spreadout, except for a long gap after August 15. We were worried about soyabean production that comes to bearing stage at this time. But, good rains on September 8 and 9 have brought the cheer back.”
Soyabean (15.27 lakh ha) is the main crop in the Amravati division, followed by cotton (9.5 lakh ha) and tur (3.95 lakh ha).
Together, the two divisions also grow orange on about 80,000 ha.
According to director of Central Institute for Cotton Research (CICR) Keshav Kranthi, “This year is being called the best cotton year with production likely in the range of 35-40 lakh bales as against 30-33 in the previous years. Accuweather, a weather forecasting agency, has forecast two more spells of rains from September 16 to 25 and September 28 to October 3, which will better conditions.”
M S Ladaniya, director of National Research Centre for Citrus (NRCC) said, “Good rains in June, absence of hailstorms in February and March, and no major diseases have contributed to a good spring flowering season (ambia bahar) of orange, this year. We are expecting the highest production in the last 20 years. As against 7-9 tonnes per ha in recent times, we are expecting 12-15 tonnes per ha, this time. We are also expecting a similar monsoon flowering season (mrig bahar).”
Orange crop in Vidarbha had been undergoing a crisis over the last 20 years with ground water table depleting by hundreds of feet, leading to farmers choosing to grow other crops.
Suicide count going up
Despite being one of the best years in recent times, the number of suicides in rural parts is higher. Figures compiled by Vasantrao Naik Sheti Swawalamban Mission (VNSSM), a government body set up to reduce agrarian distress, has put the number till August at 827 in the six most suicide-prone districts. The count last year was 963. With four months still to go, this year, the figure might go up substantially. The suicide numbers being counted systematically since 2006 had shown a distinct downward trend from 1449 to 805 in 2013. But, it rose to 963 in 2014. Of all the districts, Yavatmal, known to be the most suicide-prone district, has already recorded 264 cases this year. In the rest of the districts, Wardha, Buldana, Washim, Akola and Amravati, the suicide numbers are either comparable to the corresponding period last year or marginally higher. VNSSM director Kishor Tiwari said, “The farmers have not recovered from failures in the last few seasons. Only one-third of the farmers have had access to credit. The harvest is still two months away, and hence, farmers continue to reel under fund crunch.”