Farmers fear crop failure as late rainfall delays Kharif sowing
Area under Kharif crops sowing in the state is merely 46 percent of the area covered by this date last year.
The monsoon activity as well as Kharif sowing across Maharashtra still continues to be concerning. As of July 10, 2023, the area covered under sowing of Kharif crops in the state is merely 46 percent of the area covered by this date last year and 33 percent of the average area covered under Kharif by this time. The delay in monsoon onset over the state this year along with the unsatisfactory precipitation following the onset in several regions has led to this delay in Kharif sowing this year.
“Rainfall has increased now since the beginning of July, but it is still not satisfactory. The state is still facing a 27 percent rainfall deficit as of today,” Sunil Chavan, Commissioner of Agriculture, Government of Maharashtra, told Indie Journal.
As per the Maharashtra Agriculture Department, last year, a total of 102.93 lakh hectare area was under Kharif sowing in Maharashtra as of July 10. However, this year, only 47.13 lakh hectare area has come under sowing. This is just 33 percent of the normal sowing coverage in the state by July 10, which is 142 lakh hectares.
“The situation is quite critical. If the precipitation does not recover, we might have to declare drought zone in Maharashtra,” said Rajan Kshirsagar of All India Kisan Sabha, speaking on July 4, when the rainfall figures were even lower.
This is Maharashtra at the end of June 2023. Of its total 35 dist only two — Palghar & Gondia — have had 'normal' rainfall. Bhandara had excess rainfall.— Nidhi Jamwal (@JamwalNidhi) July 1, 2023
Rest all the 32 dists are in yellow (large deficient) or red (deficient rainfall). Kharif sowing affected. #Monsoon
Map IMD pic.twitter.com/Y9df3jOG2n
The normal rainfall for the state from June 1 to July 10 is 314.3mm. This time, the actual rainfall was 227.3mm. However, the situation has slightly improved since the beginning of July. As per the India Meteorological Department (IMD), till July 4, 2023, the actual rainfall in the state was 154.1mm against the 250.3mm normal rainfall for the said period, with a 38 percent deficit. The situation was especially grim for Vidarbha and Marathwada regions, where the deficit was 56 percent and 64 percent respectively by July 4.
"The delay in the onset of monsoon and rainfall will definitely affect the crops in the state this year. Especially with Soybean, there has been a delay of at least two to three weeks, thus the harvest will also be delayed. That could lead to a decline in production. As for Cotton, this delay could make the crop more vulnerable to diseases later,” Ajit Nawale of All India Kisan Sabha says.
Cotton, in fact, is the crop with the most area under sowing in the state as of July 10. As per the data given by the Agriculture Department, 56 percent of the cotton sowing has already been done. However, interactions with a few farmers also revealed that these might be the cases of premature sowing and the farmers now fear that their crops might fail.
“Kal pahila motha pani ala amchyakade (It rained properly for the first time in my village yesterday (July 3),” said Vinay Mahajan, a Soybean and Cotton farmer from Isapur village in Wardha district. Wardha is among the districts in the state that has the maximum area under sowing at the moment as compared to other states, along with Jalgaon, Aurangabad, Parbhani and Yavatmal.
While the Agriculture Department had issued notices asking the farmers to delay sowing until the onset of monsoon over the state, Mahajan says that many farmers around him began sowing after a couple of spells of rainfall in the first two weeks of June.
“Farmers are afraid to wait for too long. Also, even if one farmer in the village decides to sow, others tend to follow suit out of pressure. Even I had sowed Soybean seeds and I fear that I have already lost 40-45 percent of my yield. Many of us might be looking at double sowing this year,” Mahajan adds.
10 Jul; महाराष्ट्रात पुढील 4, 5 दिवस पाऊस संमिश्र राहील, कोकण आणि मध्य महाराष्ट्राच्या काही भागात मुसळधार पावसाची शक्यता आहे आणि मराठवाडा आणि विदर्भाच्या काही भागात मेघगर्जनेसह पाऊस पडण्याची शक्यता आहे.— K S Hosalikar (@Hosalikar_KS) July 10, 2023
13 जुलै नंतर सुधारणा.@RMC_Mumbai @imdnagpur pic.twitter.com/VsWYFVaxnJ
Sudhir Bindu of Shetkri Sanghtana also said that many Marathwada farmers who had sown Soybean, Cotton and Tur (Arhar) before monsoon onset might be facing a similar fate.
However, Nawale says that the number of farmers who will have to go for double sowing this time would not be much higher. “Farmers at large were vigilant this time. But if the rainfall is not consistent now, that would cause a big problem. The crops will not stand,” he adds.
One of the reasons why several farmers went ahead with sowing despite the warning from the Agriculture Department and a forecast of a dry June by IMD is said to be the dependency on unauthentic sources of weather forecast. Nawale says that such entities are definitely dangerous and must be dealt with by the authorities at the right time.
When asked about the same, Chavan said that the farmers should not take advice from anyone but official sources. “People should follow what the official sources say, if they choose to follow someone else, what can we do? We give out information through news media, we have a website, Facebook page. We urge farmers to follow it,” he said.
Meanwhile, the rainfall for the state is recovering slowly as per the IMD. However, the recovery is slow in almost all weather divisions except for Konkan-Goa. The deficit in Marathwada and Vidarbha still stands at 38 and 32 percent respectively. However, Anupam Kashyapi, Weather Head at IMD Pune, has expressed hope that further recovery is likely during the next active spell of rainfall over the state, which will be from July 13 to 16.