AFTER GROUNDNUT in Kharif season, chana (gram) sowing in the state is heading towards a new record in the ongoing Rabi season as farmers have already planted the legume crop on 6.6 lakh hectares (lh). Both chana and groundnut are among the 23 major crops for which the central government fixes a minimum support price (MSP) and makes physical procurements.
According to the latest data released by the Gujarat Directorate of Agriculture on Tuesday, farmers had completed sowing of chana in total 6.60 lh. This acreage is 226 per cent of the last three year’s average of 2.91 lh and only second to 9.10 lh acreage of wheat this Rabi season. It is a whopping 331 per cent as compared to chana sown during the corresponding period last year.
Eleven districts in the Saurashtra region account for 4.82 lh or more than 73 per cent of the total acreage this season. It is followed by central Gujarat (91,700 hectare), north Gujarat (62,700 ha) and south Gujarat (23,300 ha).
Within Saurashtra, Rajkot district is leading the charts with 83,900 ha, followed by Junagadh (76,200 ha), Jamnagar (73,600 ha), Devbhumi Dwarka (47,600 ha), Amreli (41,400 ha), Porbandar (33,100 ha), and Morbi (32,600 ha).
In central Gujarat, Ahmedabad is at the top with chickpea acreage of 48,100 ha, followed by Dahod (29,100 ha). Patan (44,400 ha) and Aravalli (14000 ha) are the leading districts in north Gujarat region while Dang accounts for most of chana acreage in south Gujarat.
The acreage of other legumes also stands at 47,001 ha which is 169 per cent of their average. In all, pulses acreage stands at 7.07 lh which is 251 per cent of last three year’s average sowing area of 3.19 lh.
In terms of percentage sowing, coriander (1.15 lh) follows chana with an increase of 85 per cent in its acreage. Onion is third in the table with 10 per cent increase in its cultivation area which stands at 42,824 ha. But in terms of acreage, after wheat and chana, jeera (cumin seeds) is the third on the list with sowing completed on 3.81 lh (93.82 %). Mustard (2.09 lh, 106.73 %) and sugarcane (1.55 lh, 104 %) are the other crops whose acreage has increased. But food grain crops like jowar (10,544 ha) and maize (71,640 ha) have seen only 37.23 per cent and 66 per cent, respectively, sowing as compared to last three year’s average.
“Primarily, the higher MSP and government procurements are driving the chana acreage. The fact that it had rained in October also, leading to higher conserved soil moisture, made it easier for farmers to decide their choice of the crop this Rabi season. It also helps that this crop requires comparatively less irrigation,” a top officer in the department of agriculture, cooperation and farmers welfare told The Indian Express on Wednesday.
Incidentally, the central government has been procuring chana from Gujarat farmers for the past three years. Chana MSP was Rs 4875 per quintal last year. It has been increased to Rs 5,100 for the Rabi marketing season 2021-22.
“It appears that farmers are responding to the price signal from the central government and planting the crop which offers good returns in the open market besides the option of selling it to government at the MSP. We saw this happen in case of groundnut and now it seems to be happening in the case of chana as well,” the senior officer added.
The Centre had increased the MSP of groundnut from Rs 5,090 to Rs 5,275 per quintal this year. It marked the fifth straight year which saw a significant increase in the MSP of this oilseed crop. Apparently taking a cue from the government, farmers of Gujarat sow groundnut on a record 20.72 lh, the highest in at least 20 years. Gujarat is the largest producer of groundnut and its procurement by the central government has been going on since October 26.
“At this stage, it appears that the chana acreage is coming at the cost of maize. But we will have to wait for some time to come to a conclusion as maize sowing is still in progress and chances are that its acreage will go up,” the officer added.