Despite the fresh spell of rains during the last couple of days, there is at least 30 per cent rainfall deficit in eight districts of Gujarat. Farmers in the districts of Vadodara, Mehsana, Ahmedabad, Kheda, Surendranagar, Anand, Bharuch and Narmada have sown water-intensive crops in over 10.39 lakh hectares during the kharif season. If the state’s average rainfall is considered, then the deficit is about 10 per cent. However, these eight districts have received only 56-68 per cent of their Long Period Average (LPA) rainfall. However, a sizable portion of the land covered under the kharif crop in these districts consists largely of cotton and paddy.
For instance, in Ahmedabad, which has received just 60 per cent of the average rainfall, farmers have sown a total area of 4.04 lakh hectares under the kharif crop, of which 1.20 lakh hectares is paddy (highest area among all the districts in the state) and 1.07 lakh hectares is cotton.
According to the latest data from the agriculture department of Gujarat, farmers in these eight districts have sown a total of 6,65,000 hectares of cotton, and an additional 3,73,000 hectares of paddy.
In fact, Surendranagar has a total of 5.8 lakh hectares under the kharif crop, which is the highest area covered among 33 districts of the state. Farmers in this district have sown over 3.5 lakh hectares of cotton crop despite it having received just 348 mm rains, 60 per cent of the average rainfall that the district gets every year.
Similarly, though other districts, like Mehsana in north Gujarat, Kheda, Anand and Vadodara in central Gujarat and Bharuch in south Gujarat, have received less rainfall, the farmers in these areas also have sown a sizable cotton and paddy crops. Agricultural experts point that sowing crops like paddy makes more sense in districts like Valsad which has registered 115 per cent rainfall (2,494 mm) this season. Farmers in this district alone has sown 71,200 hectares of paddy.
“Most of these rainfall deficient districts where paddy and cotton have been sown have irrigation facilities. So despite the shortfall in rainfall, the farmers have gone ahead as they have the water to irrigate such crops. Our only worry is the unseasonal rains that might harm the kharif crop,” said a senior official from the state agriculture department when asked if the sowing of water-intensive crops in rainfall-deficient areas could lead to crop failure in some areas. The quantum of paddy sown this year is about 7.81 lakh hectares which is 100 per cent of the average area covered during the last three years. However, farmers have sown less cotton (85 per cent of the three-year average) crop this year.