The lull in the progress of monsoon and bearish trend in soybean prices does not augur well for the growers this Kharif season. Several areas in the soybean growing regions of Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra and Rajasthan are yet to be covered, thanks to the slow progress of rains and the break in the monsoon could possibly mean re-sowing for those who have already completed operations, according to top industry people. Concerned over these factors, there is a growing fear that farmers may turn to alternative crops, thereby reducing soybean acreage, which may fall below last year’s 110 lakh hectares.
According to informal industry estimates, around 75 lakh hectares may be be sown by now as compared to the 110 lakh hectares sown last season. Davish Jain, president, Soybean Processors Association of India ( SOPA) said that farmers need the monsoons to revive to save their crops.
“What we have seen at the start of the season was pre-monsoon showers and thereafter monsoons have not progressed as forecast by the weather department,” he said.
“Things don’t look very rosy for soybean. The onset of monsoon has not been very regular and prices too were lower last year. It seems difficult to maintain last year’s sowing number,” Jain said, hastening to add that all is not lost yet.
“There is enough time until mid July and if the monsoons revive by then, some areas may be covered. The monsoon pattern has been disturbed,” he said. Farmers may go in for shorter duration crops if the current pattern of rain continues but soybean still remains the safest bet for farmers since this a sturdy crop and can withstand the vagaries of nature, Jain pointed out.
Moreover, the government has not taken steps in time to raise import duties despite several demands made by the industry. The last duty was raised was September, 2015.
Significantly, soybean prices are at a 10-year low and realisations offered to oilseed producers are not attractive and remunerative, Jain said. To add to the woes of the industry, the government has raised MSP of soyabean by 10% without simultaneously raising import duties and this has hurt the industry badly, he said. Processing parity is needed to recover the costs involved in processing and industry is not in a position to pay the higher MSP to farmers, he pointed out.