Given the 53 per cent deficit in rainfall so far this monsoon, and farmers putting on hold the planting of key crops, Maharashtra saw minimal sowing in June with only 2.26 lakh hectares covered so far by the month-end — a sharp dip from the 12.49 lakh hectares this time last year.
Agriculture officials now hope that July rains will help boost farm activities with the Indian Meteorological Department (IMD) predicting a better than normal rainfall for this month.
By the end of June, oilseeds and pulses reported the lowest sowing in the state with only 947 hectares and 1,028 hectares covered, respectively — the figures for June-end last year were 88,976 hectares for oilseeds and 59,454 hectares for pulses.
Cotton topped the list with 1.57 lakh hectares of sowing this time, as against 4.52 lakh hectares by June-end last year, while rice and other fine grains witnessed sowing over 65,680 hectares (98,866 hectares by June-end last year). Last year, the situation was much better thanks to the optimal rains the state had received, officials said.
“July rains have been predicted to be good, which will see sowing picking up,” the state’s Agriculture Commissioner Sunil Chavan said.
The state has been particularly hit by low to almost absent rainfall in the Amravati and Marathawad areas, which has affected the sowing of pulses and oilseeds. “These are the core growth areas of both these crops where farmers are holding on to their sowing activity while waiting for more rainfall. While June rainfall has been almost absent, hopes are pinned on July, which can make up for the low sowing. For crops like Tur, Soybean and cotton, too, the sowing window is till July-end and farmers can make up for lost time,” said another official.
The key reason for low sowing was the almost dry June. As against the 250.3 mm of rainfall the state was to receive till date, only 141.0 mm was realised. Last year, Maharashtra had recorded 192.4 mm of rainfall on the same date.
Among the six revenue divisions, Amravati has been the driest, reporting 51.7 mm as against the normal 178.5 mm of rainfall. Aurangabad (65.7 mm this time/158 mm normal), Pune (92.8/240.8 mm) and Nagpur (127.9/233.8 mm) also reported low rainfall. The only division which has received better rainfall than the rest was Konkan with 636.5 mm this time against the normal 799.8 mm.
The monsoon this year has been less than satisfactory for Maharashtra. Despite arriving in the state on June 10-11, it had not moved beyond Ratnagiri before June 25. Agromet advisories have advised farmers to sow only after adequate rainfall is received in the state.
Meanwhile, sowing has been more or less satisfactory across the country. As against 202.34 lakh hectares reported in 2022, the country has seen sowing on over 203.19 lakh hectares this time. Almost all the crop groups have reported equivalent to last year’s sowing. Most of the sowing in pulses, oilseeds and coarse grains have shown some growth while rice and cotton, along with Jute and Mesta, have seen a dip.