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Saturday, April 17, 2021

Maharashtra experiments with summer soyabean; could bolster farmer earnings

Farmers had sown the seed in November-December and started the harvest post March.

Written by Parthasarathi Biswas | Pune |
April 7, 2021 1:21:25 am
Maharashtra experiments with summer soyabean; could bolster farmer earningsFarmers in Maharashtra have experimented with growing soyabean as a summer crop, which could set a new trend in growing of the oilseed. (File)

Farmers in Maharashtra have experimented with growing soyabean as a summer crop, which could set a new trend in growing of the oilseed. Dheeraj Kumar, agriculture commissioner, told The Indian Express recently that soyabean was sowed on an experimental basis over 12,000 hectares and it will help farmers in bolstering their earning, given the high price of the oilseed currently.

Farmers had sown the seed in November-December and started the harvest post March.

A kharif crop, farmers in major oilseed growing states usually sow the seed in June-July and harvest after October. On an average, the oilseed is sowed over 110-120 lakh hectares across the country while in Maharashtra, it is sowed on 40-42 lakh hectares. A drought resistant crop, soyabean is the main cash crop in Marathwada and Vidharbha, two areas where the landscape is dotted with solvent and extraction plants.

The experiment was meant to see the feasibility of soyabean as a crop during the summer season, Kumar said.

“Soyabean requires a certain amount of moisture so areas where such soil moisture was present was selected to grow the crop,” he said. Districts of Prabhani, Nanded, Washim, Dhule and Nagpur were chosen for the experiment. The per acre productivity of the summer crop was slightly lower than the normal 20 quintals per acre with farmers reporting 12-15 quintals per acre yields. J 335, the straight line seed of the state government’s seed company Mahabeej, was used for sowing.

Since the start of the October-September soyabean marketing season, the oilseed has been trading above its government declared Minimum Support Price (MSP) of Rs 3,880 per quintal. Reports of seed failure across Maharashtra had led to farmers sowing the oilseed for a second time. During the harvest season, loss in yield was reported from some parts after torrential rains.

This year, the agriculture department had undertaken a massive outreach programme to help farmers conserve their seeds for next year.

Kumar said the summer sowing experiment was undertaken to fulfil any shortfall of seeds in the state. “The oilseed is trading above Rs 6,000 per quintal so some farmers will try to dispose of their stock,” he said.

While most of the soyabean seed producing companies are located in Madhya Pradesh, farmers in Maharashtra who their biggest customers. Soyabean is a straight variety crop, so farmers can harvest seeds for sowing for the next season.

The success of the experiment, Kumar said, gives hope for conducting similar trials on a larger scale in the coming season. “Of course, this will be only possible if there is enough soil moisture available for the crop,” he added.

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