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Reeling under 26% rain deficit, Gujarat stares at decline in kharif output

First kharif crop advance estimate shows fall in cotton, pulses, groundnut output
Coupled with delayed sowing and deficient rainfall, kharif production in Gujarat for the year 2018-19 is likely to be lower for most crops with reduced yields.
The first advance estimate released by the State agriculture department pointed to a sharp decline in key kharif crops such as groundnut, pulses and cotton with yields reduced over last year.
Cotton output for kharif 2018-19 is estimated at 88.28 lakh bales (each of 170 kg), which is about 14 per cent lower than the 102 lakh bales reported last year.
While farmers cry over lack of irrigation water amid scanty rain, the government sees weak monsoon as the spoil sport for the kharif crop. Sources in the government said that output has been impacted by delayed sowing and deficient rainfall during the sowing period. Government sources also confirmed about no significant impact of flooding due to excess rainfall in parts of Saurashtra earlier during the season.
As on September 17, 2018, the State received about 615 mm rainfall against the normal 831 mm, reflecting about 26 per cent deficiency.
Notably, the government had earlier suspended water supply for irrigation from the Narmada canal owing to reduced storage levels at the Sardar Sarovar Dam on the Narmada river.
This, according to farmer sources, was reflected by reduced sowing for pulses and oilseeds, while that for cotton and cereals increased as compared to last year.
However, even as cotton sowing increased to 27 lakh hectares for 2018-19 against 26.58 lakh hectares last year, the deficient rainfall is likely to dampen crop prospects with the reduced yield. Cotton yield is expected to be 554 kg in lint per hectare against 660 kg reported last year.
Big drop
The first advance estimate projects pulses output at 4,37,000 tonnes as against 5,23,000 tonnes last year.
Groundnut output is also likely to drop to 27 lakh tonnes, which is about 11 lakh tonnes or about 29 per cent lower than last year’s 38 lakh tonnes.
The State is still expecting one spell of rains to keep the crops in good health and save them from damage.
According to former State Agriculture Minister and cooperative leader Dilip Sanghani, unfavourable climatic conditions played spoilsport for farmers in the State.
“The monsoon wasn’t supportive this year. Due to this reason, there is a decline in sowing and subsequently in the production too. But consumers need not worry about a sharp rise in prices due to lower production because the Centre’s policies on buffer stock will cap the prices from rising,” he said.
“Water remains a major issue for farming. We have ensured drinking water security for the State but there may not be enough water for the winter crops,” said Sanghani, adding that in such a scenario, the government is encouraging agriculture-allied sectors such as animal husbandry to sustain farmers’ income.