groundnut and cotton growing farmers had a narrow escape from their crops and suffering losses, as widespread rain lashed Gujarat over the past week. The monsoon was delayed by 20 days from the earlier forecast of June 15, leaving farmers worried.
However, rainfall in the state is still 60 per cent below normal, at 96.2 millimeters. Gujarat is a leader in cotton and groundnut cultivation, with a total area under sown of about 2.5 million hectares and 1.75 hectares, respectively. The sowing for groundnut and cotton normally starts from June. “There was good rain in key cotton growing regions over the past one week. We expect sowing to pick up from this week onwards. The concern about a possible decline in the cotton acreage due to a delayed monsoon seems to be fading away and we may see good production this year,” said Dhiren Sheth, president, Cotton Association of India .
“Had the rain got delayed by another week or so, it would have turned out to be a catastrophe for the cotton and groundnut farmers. Though it rained a bit late, it came just in time to save the farmers. However, the harvest may be delayed by a month or so,” informed Biren Vakil, a commodity analyst in Ahmedabad. The recent rain has covered most parts of the state, including Saurashtra, central and south Gujarat. The government is expecting further progress in sowing of kharif crops. “However, we are in the process of obtaining sowing data from respective districts and will compile it in some time,” said a senior official from the directorate of agriculture.
Agriculture experts maintained that farmers having irrigation facilities had taken up cotton sowing on about 452,000 hectares in the early phase of the kharif season, while groundnut sowing was complete on about 376,000 hectares.
However, most of the cotton growing region in the state is rain-fed, where cultivation would be possible only with monsoon.
“Almost 30 per cent sowing is over in cotton and farmers feel happy about the late, but timely rain. However, there are some concerns about the production due to the delay. But for groundnut, there doesn’t seem to be much problem,” maintained C J Dangaria, director of research at Junagadh Agricultural University. According to experts, sowing for other kharif crops, including sesamum, bajara and pulses, would also be ramped up in the coming days. Castor sowing is expected to take off from July-end. “The recent rain has built hopes of good sowing for castor. The sowing will start from July-end and there are good prospects, as the rain has set the scene,” said Vakil.