Early June rain gives head-start to sowing; cotton and groundnut leading crops


With Cyclone Biparjoy bringing rain in Saurashtra as well as north and south Gujarat in early June, sowing in the current Kharif season has a got a head start, with farmers having completed sowing in more than 40 lakh hectares (lh) or around 47 per cent of the last three years’ annual average.

According to data released by the state government on Tuesday, sowing had been completed in 40.46 lh. This is 34 per cent higher during the corresponding week of the previous Kharif season and 47 per cent of the last three year’s annual sowing area of 85.97 lh. At this time of the year last year, sowing had been completed in 30.20 lh only.

Under the influence of Biparjoy, Saurashtra region’s many districts, including Bhavnagar, Amreli, Gir Somnath, Junagadh, Porbandar, Devbhumi Dwarka, Jamnagar and Rajkot had received heavy rainfall. Heavy rainfall was reported in Kutch also, the district where the cyclone made landfall on June 15 and then moved to north Gujarat.

The southwest monsoon generally covers most parts of Saurashtra by the end of June. After the cyclonic rain, monsoon rainfall covered remaining areas of Saurashtra in the third and fourth weeks of June.

As of July 5, the state had already received an average 282.88 millimetres (mm) or more than 11 inch of rainfall, which is 32.52 per cent of the previous 20 years’ annual average. With an average of 405 mm (25 mm make one inch) and 344 mm of rainfall, Kutch and Saurashtra regions, respectively, have already received 87.44 per cent and 48.33 per cent of their long-term average rainfall, government data shows.

The early rain has allowed farmers in Saurashtra to complete sowing in 30.80 lh. This is almost 82 per cent of the 73.73 lh sowing reported during the 2022 Kharif season, according to data.

However, other regions are lagging. In the six districts of north Gujarat, the second largest region of the state in terms of arable land, sowing has been done in 5.17 lh against the previous season’s total sowing area of 17.40 lh.

In the eight districts of central Gujarat, sowing has been done in 2.25 lh so far against the previous year’s total sowing area of 16.84 lh. Same is the case in south Gujarat where sowing has been completed in 86,100 hectare (ha) against the previous year’s total of 2.36 lh.

However, together with Kutch, north and central Gujarat regions traditionally account for most of the sowing area of castor, the oilseed crop, which is sown only in late July and through August to escape pest attacks.

In Kutch, which had recorded a total sowing of 6.44 lh during the previous Kharif season, farmers have so far sowed 1.36 lh area with cotton (60,200 ha), groundnut (21,000 ha) and castor (11,500 ha) accounting for majority of it.

Despite having burnt their fingers the previous years, farmers in Saurashtra have sown cotton big time. Sowing of this fibre crop, which is the most important cash crop of the state, has been completed in 16.09 lh in Saurashtra. Overall sowing of this crop stands at 20.25 lh, which is higher by around five lakh hectare when compared with the corresponding period last year and almost 86 per cent of the last three years’ annual average sowing area of 23.6 lh.

In the last Kharif season, farmers had down cotton in 25.49 lh, which was six per cent higher than the previous three year’s average area and almost two lh higher than the area of 2021.

The faith in cotton comes despite prices of cotton having started sliding from around Rs 9,500 per quintal last November when the arrivals in the market of cotton sown in 2022 Kharif season started picking up and are at present ruling at an average of Rs 7,000.

Acreage of groundnut, the second most important cash crop, stands at 13.28 lh or around 70 per cent of last three year’s annual average of 18.94 lh. However, it is around three lh higher than the figure of corresponding period of the last year.

Sowing of soybean is also seeing an uptick this season. So far, farmers have completed sowing of this oilseed crop in 1.53 lh, which is almost double as compared to the corresponding figure of the previous year and 77 per cent the last years’ annual average. In the 2022 Kharif season, farmers had sown soybean in 2.21 lh.


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