According to data by the Department of Agriculture, initial sowing patterns of groundnut in 2015-16 kharif season have been much better than cotton. As on June 19, total sowing of groundnut crop has been on 136,000 hectares in 2015-16 against 79,000 hectares in the corresponding period in 2014-15, an increase of 72 per cent. Meanwhile, cotton area has marginally declined from two million hectares to 1.96 million hectares.
"Diversification to groundnut crop will be done by mostly cotton farmers. Out of the total increase in groundnut sowing, around 85 per cent will come from reduction in cotton acreage," said Kishore Tanna, chairman of Indian Oilseeds and Produce Export Promotion Council.
Gujarat, the largest groundnut-producing state in India, has witnessed initial groundnut crop sowing on 60,400 hectares marginally down from last year's 64,000 hectares. The cotton sowing area in Gujarat has, however, reduced by 40 per cent to 151,400 hectares so far from 256,800 hectares in the corresponding period last year, according to Gujarat state agriculture department data. Loss to cotton will be gain for groundnut.
Among other states, as on June 18, 2015, groundnut sowing in Andhra Pradesh and Telangana has risen marginally to 28,800 hectares from 28,000 hectares last year, according to data by the Directorate of Oilseeds Development, Hyderabad. Sowing has also increased from 8,000 hectares last year to 19,000 hectares in Tamil Nadu. Although it is among the major groundnut producing states, Karnataka has seen a slow start in sowing at 27,000 hectares against 43,000 hectares.
"As on date, sowing progress in groundnut has been good and if monsoon continues to be favorable, then the area of groundnut might increase 20-30 per cent. However, for clear picture, we have to wait till mid July," said T Radhakrishnan, director, Directorate of Groundnut Research.
Notably, less production last year yielded better returns for groundnut farmers last year, mainly after October 2014. On an average, groundnut prices stood at ~1,000-1,300 per 20 kg between October 2014 and May 2015, which were ~950-1,120 per 20 kg earlier.
"Price has been the biggest contributing factor for expected higher acreage in groundnut this year and mainly cotton farmers will switch over to groundnut. On the basis of current progress of sowing, we can say the area of groundnut crop is likely to gain by 25 per cent," said Khushwant Jain, managing director of Mumbai based G S Exports.
Meanwhile, the Central Organisation for Oil Industry & Trade has estimated kharif groundnut production at 3.57 million tonnes for 2014-15, down by 1.14 million tonnes from the previous year's 4.71 million tonnes. According to data by the Agricultural and Processed Food Products Export Development Authority, India has exported 708,386 tonnes of groundnut during 2014-15 against 509,664 tonnes in the previous year.