The overall acreage of oilseeds in Gujarat has remained high at around 124 per cent, while the sowing of castor, the second most important oilseed after groundnut, has been below normal so far this Kharif season.
Farmers had completed sowing of castor in 5.97 lakh hectare (lh) as of September 21, according to the Directorate of Agriculture of Gujarat government. That represents 95.89 per cent of last three year’s average acreage of 6.23 lh. However, it is much lower compared to the corresponding reporting week the previous year when sowing was completed in 7.02 lh.
Officers of agriculture department said that sowing of castor normally begins in August and goes on till September-end and that the figure of 5.97 lh is likely to be revised upward over the next couple of weeks.
North Gujarat accounts for majority of castor acreage in the state followed by Saurashtra and central Gujarat.
This year, north Gujarat’s six districts—Banaskantha (98,900 hectare), Patan (80,500 ha), Mehsana (71,700 ha), Sabarkantha (23,600 ha), Gandhinagar (24,800 ha) and Aravalli (10,600 ha) have reported cumulative castor sowing in 3.10 ha or more than half of total acreage. The 11 districts of Saurashtra have seen castor sowing in total 81,300 ha and eight districts of central Gujarat in 78,100.
However, oilseeds in general have seen an overall increase of around 24 per cent against average.
Farmers have sown oilseeds in total 29.64 lh, up from 24.74 lh for the corresponding period the previous year and last three year’s average of 23.91 lh. Groundnut leads the chart with 24.65 lh with castor coming in second. Soyabean and sesame seeds have been sown in 1.49 lh each.
However, in terms of percentage, sesame seeds have recorded the highest increase of around 46 per cent with its cultivation area exceeding the normal of 1.02 lh and previous year’s total of 1.16 lakh. Soyabean acreage also represents 122.33 per cent against average.
The central government has been procuring groundnut from Gujarat at minimum support price for the last five years, persuading farmers to plant more of the oilseed. Overall sowing in the state has crossed 86.22 lh, making it 101.56 per cent.