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Sharp decline in kharif sowing as North Gujarat awaits rains

With rains playing truant in parts of Gujarat, the State braces itself for a lacklustre kharif season, mainly in North and East-Central Gujarat and the Kutch region.
Overall sowing in the State has declined by about 12 per cent as on July 31 compared to last year. While the State has received overall rainfall of 450 mm — 54 per cent of the normal 831 mm — the districts of Kutch and North Gujarat have received rainfall in the range of 11-45 per cent.
The IMD has predicted no major rain activity for the next five days with only light to moderate rains at isolated places in parts of the State.
Even as the kharif sowing window closes by the end of July, the sowing in Kutch district stood at 1,02,000 hectares, which is 74 per cent lower from the same period last year.
Similarly, the sowing has taken a beating in the districts of North Gujarat, with Patan registering a decline of 14 per cent, Mehsana: 22 per cent, Banaskantha: 10 per cent, Ahmedabad: 45 per cent and Surendranagar: 19 per cent.
These districts have traditionally been growing cotton, groundnut, paddy, castor and millets, besides guar and vegetables. As per State Agriculture Department data, overall sowing for key kharif crops groundnut and cotton has fallen by 12 per cent and 3 per cent, respectively. However, farmer sources revealed that the sowing would be much lesser than the government data due to flood situations in Saurashtra earlier in July.
Notably, agriculture officers deployed at the district level revealed that groundnut and cotton farmers, whose farms were inundated in flood waters, have lost the kharif sowing time and they may not go for resowing of the same crop. Hence, they will now turn to guar, castor or pulses. This year, castor acreage stood at only 36,881 hectares, which is about 25 per cent of what was seen around the same time last year.
North Gujarat has been the castor heartland but this year the coverage has been dull at 15,200 hectares (48,500 ha).
In Saurashtra, groundnut has been sown on 11,76,600 ha (13,15,600 ha).
Cotton sowing, however, has maintained its pace with 25,54,311 ha (26,35,700 ha). Saurashtra is the largest cotton growing region with 18,39,500 ha under the fibre crop.