Amid water scarcity, Gujarat farmers are avoiding summer sowing and prefer to keep their fields idle till the monsoon knocks at the doors.
For Odhavjibhai Chaturbhai Patel, a farmer from Ramnagar in Tankara taluka of Morbi district, summer will be a complete rest for him and his farm.
“We have taken two crops till now: groundnut and chana (chickpeas). The harvest just got over and we were preparing for summer crop. But with limited water availability, we decided to avoid planting of lentils or sesame and let our fields dry in the sunny season before the onset of monsoon,” said Odhavjibhai adding that this move will disinfect the land from the germs and fungus arising from the use of chemicals.
“Normally, with water being available most of the farmers in our region would take up sesame or bajra. But this time very few farmers have taken up sowing,” he said.
Morbi is a district in Saurashtra region with an overall sowing of 2,600 hectares as on March 26, 2018. Most farmers have cultivated fodder to feed their cattle instead of going for pulses or oilseeds in summer cultivation. For Odhavjibhai, chana fetched around ₹750 a maund (20 kg) against ₹1,000 last year. “The returns are less and costs are rising. Hence, many of the farmers are depending more on cattle to survive during the summers,” he added.
The Gujarat government’s agriculture officers in water-starved region maintained that lack of irrigation facilities in most farms and with restriction on access to canal water for farming, the ryots have stayed away from summer cultivation.
“This is reflected in the summer sowing too. In the districts of Rajkot, Jamnagar, Porbandar, Morbi, Amreli, Botad the summer sowing is disappointing and at a remarkably low levels,” said a district agriculture officer from Saurashtra.
Data from the Gujarat Agriculture Director’s office shows the overall sowing was being carried on 6,05,700 hectares — 30 per cent lower than 3-year average summer sowing of 8,54,400 ha.
Interestingly, paddy sowing has witnessed a 34 per cent jump over 3-year average of 39,900 ha with Ahmedabad, Kheda, Vadodara and Surat witnessing a rise in planting. Among the major pulses are moong and urad, which weer sown on 23,900 ha and 6,800 ha respectively.