Sowing has dropped for 17 out of 20 crops this winter compared to the previous year due to deficient monsoon, says a weekly report of state agriculture department. Farmers' representatives fear that insufficient irrigation would pose a threat to what has been sown so far, hitting productivity.
According to the report, the state has witnessed winter (rabi) sowing on 16.92 lakh hectare till December 3, compared to 23.63 lakh hectare for the same period last year, indicating a drop of about 30 per cent.
The three-year seasonal average for sowing stands at 31.36 lakh hectares.
State's main kharif crop, wheat, has been sown over 3.63 lakh hectare compared to 6.68 lakh hectare a year ago.
Acreage where irrigation is available has dropped by almost 50 per cent. Last year wheat (irrigated) was sown over 6.16 lakh hectare, which has dropped to 3.41 lakh hectare now.
Late onset of monsoon, followed by erratic and inadequate rains at its fag end, hit winter sowing this year.
Moreover, farmers are complaining that even if water is available, it is not given to them. "Growers are concerned about saving their sowing. This will result in fall in productivity even as overall sowing has dropped," said Sagar Rabari, founder and president of Gujarat Khedut Ekta Manch.
Other major rabi crops have also witnessed a drop in acreage. These include cumin (1.99 lakh hectare, drop of 26 per cent), gram (1.60 lakh hectare, drop of 47 per cent) and mustard (1.87 lakh hectare, drop of 13.1 per cent). Sowing of fodder dropped from 3.01 lakh hectare to 2.81 lakh hectare and that of vegetables dropped from 1.1 lakh hectare to 80,114 hectare.
Crops whose acreage did not drop this year include jowar (31,750 hectare from 20,000 hectare), sugarcane (92,764 hectare to 64,100 hectare) and fennel (29,300 hectare from 29,174 hectare).
An official of state agriculture department said that delayed onset and early withdrawal of monsoon means there was lower recharge of water, and village ponds and bore wells have not been filled.
"This has a direct impact on rabi sowing. Since monsoon has been deficient, we estimate that sowing will be about 30 per cent lower. We are trying to channle more water through canal," he said.