Lakhichand Sinam, of Sonee village in Mandsaur district of Madhya Pradesh cultivated soybean in around 4 acres this year. After the monsoon revived in July, he expected a good harvest. However, the relentless and heavy rain that has been pounding several parts of MP for the past few days has dashed his hopes. “I’m now looking at big loss. Almost all the crop has been submerged and there is no let-up in rain,” Sinam said over telephone from Mandsaur. He said the rains could not have come at a worse time. Due to late sowing, the soybean crop was just starting to bear fruit. Now, with extensive submergence, it has turned pale, with no chance of revival.
Sinam and 30 of his fellow villagers went to the district collector’s office recently to demand compensation. “So far, no one has come to survey our fields and the patwari says he doesn’t have orders from the top,” he said. For hundreds of thousands in MP, the relentless rain has washed away hope of a good harvest and an accompanying improvement in income after years of low prices.
Of the 11.2 million hectares where soybean was sown in 2019, around 5.5 mn ha was in MP. In the case of urad (black gram), of the 3.75 mn ha sown, 44 per cent is in MP.
Soybean prices have turned volatile on the National Commodity and Derivatives Exchange (NCDEX) Futures, following reports of rain, and crop damage. In the past week, prices have risen 4.5 per cent in Indore, with reports of crop damage turning real.
No full-fledged assessment has been done, with a wait for the rains to stop, but sources said there were large tracts standing soybean and urad crops across Hoshangabad, Mandsaur, Indore, Ujjain, Neemuch, Ratlam and other places, except the Gwalior-Chambal division.
According to the weather office, rainfall in MP has been 28 per cent above normal so far. Between June 1 and September 30, the normal rainfall in the state is 952 mm. This year, till Thursday, it was 1,100 mm.
“A proper assessment of the loss can be made only when the rains stop and surveyors are able to venture into the fields,” said D N Pathak, executive director of the Soybean Processors Association of India (Sopa).
Sopa had, in an assessment on August 30 (when the rains started pounding MP), estimated that of the 5.5 mn ha on which the crop was sown, the condition of almost 79 per cent was normal; it was poor in the rest. This was before the current bout of relentless rain. It has also pounded parts of Gujarat and Rajasthan. Trade sources in Gujarat say there is some impact on the cotton and groundnut crop; in Rajasthan, farms in areas adjoining MP have seen some impact.
“Initial reports from the ground show that of the total standing pulses crop, 0.5-1 mn ha might have got damaged due to heavy rain. But this will be compensated from good yield in others areas, such as Uttar Pradesh,” N P Singh, director of the Indian Institute of Pulses Research, told Business Standard. In total, all the kharif pulses (urad, moong, arhar — black gram, green gram, pigeon pea) are grown on around 12 mn ha. Kharif pulses are 40 per cent of India’s total annual production.