Sep 132012

“Due to subdued and insufficient rainfall in Gujarat, 14 districts face drought-like situations and crops also show wilting conditions. In Saurashtra and Kutch region, groundnut and cotton crops have been reported to be damaged due to dry conditions,” notes the National Bulletin of Agriculture Meteorology Division of Indian Meteorology Department.

It has been almost a decade since Gujarat experienced drought or scarcity. Currently, the Gujarat region has seasonal rainfall deficit of 44%. Saurashtra region itself is facing a deficit of 82%. However, despite the enormity of the crisis, the state is better equipped to mitigate the effect.

“Assessment of crop production is based right now on sown area and estimated moisture level. Final crop production may differ. The real situation may look different a month later,” says an agriculture expert on condition of anonymity. Experts believe that production of groundnut is likely to decline by 40-50% (six to seven lakh tonne) while that of cotton is likely to come down to 60% (60 to 70 lakh bales) of the previous year.

However, better infrastructural facilities like water, Narmada canal, improved supply of electricity, better variety of oilseeds, improved groundwater facilities, etc are expected to save the state from a very severe crisis.

“Gone are those days where we had to carry our relief works on massive scale. The time has changed. Situation has improved in terms of availability of water, technology of sowing and farming activity,” says former chairman of national committee on agriculture marketing Shankerlal Guru.

He also believes that the impact of a deficient rainfall on overall agriculture economy will be limited compared to previous droughts in the state. “No matter what, there will be at least 60% production of major crops like cotton, groundnut and grains. Impact on agriculture labour will also be limited as there are other opportunities available to the workers in rural as well as urban areas,” he adds.

Total sowing of food grains in Gujarat is down to 55% of the normal area. Official data for the week ending August 13 shows that for oilseeds, it is down by 42% while in case of cotton, the area under sowing is down to 82% of the normal area.

Another expert believes that the biggest challenge will be to ensure supply of fodder for animal husbandry. “The sector is an important part of livelihood of the farming community. The younger generation has been lax. They do not keep stock of seeds and fodder. This is going to create problem,” rues Bharatiya Kisan Sangh (BKS) leader Praful Sanjalia. According to BKS authorities, the worst sufferers would be Rajkot, Jamnagar, Junagadh and Amreli districts in Saurashtra and other parts of central and north Gujarat.

News Source: DNA India

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