Maharashtra soya output may halve in 2008-09

Written by Reuters | Mumbai | Updated: Feb 1 2009, 03:59am hrs
Soybean output in Maharashtra may halve to 1.92 million tonne (MT) in 2008-09 despite a rise in acreage as late sowing and pest infestation dented yields, the state agriculture minister said on Friday. The second largest soybean producer in India had harvested 3.97 MT in 2007-08.

Lower rains in June and July delayed sowing of the oilseed. Besides, pest attack, especially in the Marathwada and Vidarbha regions, trimmed yields, Balasaheb Thorat told Reuters on Friday. Farmers in the state usually sow the oilseed after arrival of monsoon rains in June and start harvesting from October.

Area under the crop in the state climbed by 15.6% to 3.08 million hectare in 2008-09, agriculture department data showed. The crop yield in expected to drop by 58.2% on-year to 623 kg per hectare, a senior official with state agriculture department said. Thin arrivals in major physical markets in the state also indicated a dip in output. Most of the arrivals were over by end of January last year, but this year only about 60% of the total estimated produce hit the market, said Dnyanoba Kalme, a trader based in Latur. Soybean is a main summer-sown oilseed crop in the country.

Farmers are bringing only part of the produce and holding the rest in anticipation of a rise in prices, said Radha Vallabhaji Purohit, a trader based in Nagpur, the biggest market for the commodity in the state. Soybean prices at the Nagpur spot market have risen by one-third to Rs 2,346 per 100 kg over the last two months as soymeal exporters increased purchases on robust overseas demand.