October 12, 2021 3:05:42 am
THE STATE government’s First Advanced Estimate (FAE) for the Kharif crops pegs groundnut production in Gujarat at 39.94 lakh tonnes (lt), fractionally lower than 39.86 lt of last year even as farmers and experts say that the yield is likely to remain low due to unfavourable weather this year.
Groundnut acreage in Gujarat has come down to 19.09 lakh hectare (lh) this Kharif season from 20.65 lh hectare the previous year. Farmers and scientists say that an extended dry spell in July-August as well as the continued October rains are likely to keep the yield low even as the FAE estimates the yield to remain 2.08 tonnes per hectare, higher than the estimated 1.89 tonnes as per the Fourth Advanced Estimate of 2020-21 season.
Mukesh Patel, Minister of State for Agriculture, however, said the production of main oilseed crop of the state is expected to be good despite acreage falling marginally.
“Reports from the field suggest that the size of the groundnut crop in the state this year will be at least as large as it was the previous year,” Patel said, adding the government was making preparations to procure groundnut from farmers at a minimum support price of Rs 5,550 per quintal. But farmers said they expect the yield to remain significantly low.
“Against the average 20 mann in normal years, the yield is likely to remain 12 to 15 mann per bigha (6.25 bigha make one hectare and 50 manns make one tonne) this year as I couldn’t irrigate my crop during the month-long dry spell in July-August. Now, the continued rains in October threaten to damage the crop as it becomes ready for harvest,” said Amit Makadiya, a 25-bigha farmer from Jamnagar who has sown groundnut in 15 bigha.
Prof HM Gajipara, director of extension education at the Junagadh Agricultural University (JAU) in Junagadh, agrees.
“The dry spell in July-August was also the period when groundnut crop was at flowering and pegging stage and its moisture demand was high. But irrigation water was not available everywhere. Secondly, the continued wet weather in October, when the crop is ready for harvest, is forcing a delay in harvest. All this means the yield will be 10 to 15 per cent low this season,” Prof Gajipara said.
Rajesh Madariya, research scientist at the Main Oilseed Research Station of JAU says almost 50 percent of Saurashtra didn’t have irrigation water during the dry spell. “But the rains in the last week of August and then in September have reversed the scenario. That said, the continued rain in October is damaging the uprooted crop and may lead to fungal diseases,” said Madariya.
Sameer Shah, president of Gujarat State Edible Oils and Oil Seeds Association said that the crop scenario doesn’t look too bleak. “Our crop survey is on and results are likely to be available in a few days. But whatever field reports we have received suggest the crop is good,” said Shah.
With an aim to control edible oil prices in the country, the Central government on Sunday directed states to impose stock limits on the commodity.
But Shah said any such move would backfire. “Oil prices had already started seeing a correction and stock limits right at the time when oilseeds of Kharif season are starting to arrive in the market will only put pressure on oilseed prices in APMCs, especially when China is not visible in the market,” said Shah.