The upcoming Kharif season may witness soybean growers in Maharashtra reducing their cost of production in terms of the expenditure for seeds. An initiative of the state agriculture department has led to farmers producing 36.38 lakh quintal of soybean seeds, which is more than sufficient to meet the state’s annual demand of 30 lakh quintal of seeds.
Soybean farmers in Maharashtra had complained of extensive germination failure this Kharif season, even though they had taken to early sowing. It is estimated that around 20 per cent of the land had to undergo resowing, which in turn had increased the overall cost of production. A host of reasons such as the inferior quality of seeds, deep sowing and insufficient soil moisture were attributed to the germination failure. The state agriculture department had also terminated the licenses of 11 companies for allegedly supplying seeds of inferior quality.
Unlike hybrid crops such as cotton and vegetables, soybean is an open pollination variety which allows farmers to reuse its seeds. On an average, the state requires around 30 lakh quintal seeds, most of which is supplied by private players. However, unseasonal rain towards the end of October last year had affected the quality of soybean seeds in the state.
In a special program initiated at the beginning of the growth phase of this season, the agriculture department had encouraged farmers to preserve seeds for the next season. Farmers were asked to identify the plants in the middle of their fields and the ones whose vegetative growth was good. Utmost care was taken during harvesting of the same. Post-harvest storage for the selected seeds, such as not stacking multiple bags, using gunny bags for storage and keeping the bag in an elevated platform, were some of the measures which were popularised among the farmers. Around one quintal of seed is required for sowing over a hectare of the oilseed.
Dilip Zende, director of inputs and quality control, department of agriculture, said that the state has reported the collection of 36.38 lakh quintal seeds till date. Districts in the Latur and Amravati division have reported the highest production of seeds. Over 6.39 lakh hectare of area was used for seed production and 3.09 lakh farmers had participated in the program.
Farmers in the state usually sow soybean over 40 lakh hectare, making it the second most important crop here after cotton. The oilseed is grown mostly in Vidarbha and Marathwada areas of the state, which is the second largest producer of soybean in the country after Madhya Pradesh.
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