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Thursday, June 24, 2021

In the middle of summer harvest, cyclone Tauktae worries Saurashtra farmers

The cyclone is likely to make a landfall between Porbandar and Bhavnagar coasts on the intervening night of Monday and Tuesday.

Written by Gopal Kateshiya | Rajkot |
Updated: May 17, 2021 11:43:25 am
Sesamum fieldA partly harvested sesamum field in a village in Kodinar taluka of Gir Somnath district. Express Photo

With the cyclonic storm Tauktae likely to induce rainfall and windy conditions over the next two days, farmers of Saurashtra, who are in the midst of harvesting their summer crops, say the rainfall could not have come at a worse time.

The cyclone is likely to make a landfall between Porbandar and Bhavnagar coasts on the intervening night of Monday and Tuesday. Under its influence, Saurashtra is likely to experience rainfall and windy conditions for the next two days.

“My black gram crop in 10 bighas, green gram in four bighas and pearl millet in three bighas is ready for harvest and then comes this news about the cyclone and the rain it may bring. If it rains, I stand to lose my entire crop of black gram and green gram,” Kanji Barad, a farmer from Sutrapada village of Gir Somnath district, said.

Officers of agriculture department of the state agree. “Farmers are in the early days of harvesting their summer crops like green gram, black gram, sesamum and pearl millet. Rain at such a time can result in complete loss of pulse crops. Therefore, we have advised farmers to harvest their crop, if it is ready, and shift it to safer place or cover it with tarpaulin sheets post-harvest on the field itself,” JN Parmar, district agriculture officer (DAO) of Porbandar, said.

Farmers in 11 districts of Saurashtra have sown summer crops on 3.04 lakh hectares (lh) land this year, which is around one third of total 10.48 lh area under summer crops in the state. Major cash crops sown in Saurashtra this season include sesamum (91,600 hectare), green gram (38,200 ha), groundnut (21,800 ha), pearl millet (17,600 ha), black gram (17,500 ha), vegetables (19,800 ha) and fodder (87,800 ha).

Sesamum field Sesamum crop left for drying post harvest in a village in Kodinar taluka of Gir Somnath district. Express Photo

The highest acreage in the region has been reported from Junagadh (62,700 ha), Bhavnagar (47,700 ha), Gir Somnath (32,900 ha) and Amreli (31,400 ha), all coastal districts where the impact of the cyclone is likely to remain more pronounced. These four, especially Junagadh and Gir Somnath, are also home to several mango orchards are located, especially Talala taluka in Gir Somnath is famous for its Kesar variety of mangos. The inclement weather comes just 12 days after the mango season started formally on May 4.

According to Bhavnagar DAO SR Kosambi, not only the agriculture, horticulture crops are also vulnerable. “Gusty winds can make fruits fall to the ground and can also damage orchards,” Kosambi said.

The Junagadh Agricultural University (JAU), meanwhile, issued an advisory asking farmers to complete harvesting and thre-shing of mature summer crops like groundnut, sesame, green gram and black gram immediately. It has also advised farmers to arrange for extensive drainage facilities to remove excess rainwater from standing crop fields.

“But overcast conditions have been prevailing for the past two days. It is not possible to cut the crop now. Now, we are at the mercy of the rain gods. If it doesn’t rain much, I plan to harvest my pulse crop on May 18,” Barad said. The Sutrapada farmers added that excessive monsoon had damaged his groundnut crop in the Kharif season last year.

“Groundnut crop is at the stage of maturation and a small amount of rainfall may not cause much damage. But persistent rainfall over an extended period can be damaging,” the Bhavnagar DAO added.

Bhavnagar has recorded groundnut sowing in 8,000 ha, the highest among all the 11 districts in Saurashtra and the second highest in state after Banaskantha where farmers have sown the oilseed in 22,300 ha.

Saurashtra accounts for most of the state’s sesamum (97,800 ha) and black gram (17,900 ha) and majority of green gram (59,200 ha) acreage this season and almost half of groundnut sowing area. Agriculture officers, too, expressed apprehension that inclement weather would pose a threat to crops ready for harvest.

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