Following the latest spell of rain since the beginning of this month, the sowing in the state has crossed the mark of 60 lakh hectare and now stands at more than 75 per cent of normal acreage of last three years. More importantly, sowing of cotton and groundnut, the two main Kharif cash crops of Gujarat are almost nearing their normal average mark.
As of August 5, farmers had completed sowing in 63.64 lakh hectare (lh) area, data available with the Directorate of Agriculture of Gujarat show. This translates into 75.08 per cent of the average 84.76 lh farmers had sown in the previous three years. However, as compared to last year it is 90 per cent. Last year, when large parts of the state faced a drought or highly deficient monsoon, farmers had planted Kharif crops in total 69.98 lh. That was around 92 per cent of average.
But the state may cross that mark this year. “Sowing of castor goes on till the end of August as farmers sow this crop late to avoid pest attack. Therefore, the overall figures of crop sowing are likely to be revised upwardly in coming weeks,” Vijay Korat, deputy director of agriculture of Rajkot region, said.
Sowing of Kharif crops in the state starts in June and goes on through August after arrival of south-west monsoon. As of August 5, overall acreage of food grain crops like paddy, pearl millet, jowar, maize etc stands at 9.71 lh (71.79 per cent of last three year’s average). Acreage of pulses, including tur (red gram), green gram, black gram, moth gram etc stood at 3.11 lh (53.81 per cent). However, that of oilseeds including groundnut, sesame seeds, castor, soya-bean etc was better at 16.92 lh or 71 per cent. That of cash crops of like cotton, vegetables and fodder crops stood at cumulative 33.87 lh or 81.43 per cent.
Like every year, Saurashtra region which comprises 11 districts – Rajkot, Morbi, Amreli, Bhavnagar, Botad, Junagadh, Porbandar, Jamnagar, Surendranagar, Gir Somnath and Devbhoomi Dwarka – leads in sowing this year also. Farmers have sown crops like cotton, groundnut, fodder etc in 33.49 lh. That is more than 52 per cent of the total area sown in the state this season. Central Gujarat stands second at 11.34 lh, while north Gujarat region has recorded sowing in 11.29 lh. The South Gujarat region makes up the balance 5.87 lh area sown this monsoon.
However, Saurashtra is still lagging behind when compared to total acreage of Kharif season last year when farmers had sown crops in total 37.40 lh as of September 4, 2018. Officers of state agriculture department said that the current data of the ongoing Kharif season are likely to be revised upward as some pockets in Saurashtra have received their first spell of good rainfall only recently and therefore farmers are still sowing. “Talukas like Dhrangadhra, Dasada and Wadhwan have recorded first good spell of rain recently and farmers are sowing cotton and other crops. Therefore, the sowing data is likely to improve in coming days,” says Hasmukh Vadi, district agriculture officer of Suredranagar.
While the overall sowing is still below average, acreage of cotton and groundnut is nearing cent per cent. As of August 5, the cotton acreage in the state stood at 24.69 lh, while that of groundnut was 14.62 lh. They together constitute around 62 per cent of the total sown area of Gujarat. But crop wise, the 24.69 lh for cotton is 95.49 per cent as compared to last three year’s average acreage of 25.86 lh. Similarly, groundnut acreage of 14.62 lh this year is more than 93 per cent of three year average of 15.70 lh. In fact, groundnut acreage has already crossed last year’s figure of 14.53 lh. However, cotton acreage is around two lakh hectare lower as compared to 26.58 lh registered the previous season.
Incidentally, many districts of Saurashtra had gone through a drought last year and therefore groundnut sowing had remained low comparatively. But the cyclone Vayu bringing rain to Saurashtra in early June this year, the region, which is cotton and groundnut belt of the state, has seen sowing of these two important cash crops on a large scale.
Saurashtra accounts for more than 70 per cent of cotton acreage and production and more than 80 per cent acreage and production of groundnut. This season, the region has reported cotton sowing in 17.52 lh. Surendranagar, one of the largest districts in terms of total cultivable area, generally also records the highest cotton acreage. But this year, it is trailing behind Amreli district. Amreli has recorded cotton sowing in 4.02 lh against 3.02 lh of Surendranagar. Besides Amreli and Surendranagar, Rajkot (2.64 lh), Bhavnagar (2.37 lh) Morbi (1.66 lh) Botad (1.62 lh) and Jamnagar (1.08 lh) have also reported cotton sowing on a large scale.
After Saurashtra, central Gujarat stands second in terms of cotton acreage with 2.93 lh, followed by north Gujarat (2.17 lh) and south Gujarat (1.56 lh).
In groundnut acreage too, Saurasthra is at the front. The region has reported sowing of this oilseed in more than 11.97 lh out of total 14.62 lh under this crop in the state. Junagadh and Jamnagar districts lead the chart with 2.34 lh and 2.33 lh areas under groundnut. Devbhoomi Dwarka (1.84 lh), Amreli (1.12 lh), and Gir Somnath (1.03 lh) too have witnessed sowing of groundnut in more than one lakh hectare each.
After cotton and groundnut, fodder crops account for the third largest acreage this season with total sown area of 6.93 lh, while farmers have sown paddy in 4.88 lh, especially in central Gujarat region.
Maize acreage stands at 2.93 lh, castor 4.96 lh, red gram around 2 lh and black gram 0.70 lh. Farmers have also sown guar in 0.66 lh and other vegetable crops in 1.57 lh. Pearl millet has been sown in 1.63 lh.