At least 10 lakh quintals of seeds have remained unutilised at the end of this kharif season in Maharashtra. Although monsoons recovered to an extent in September, the kharif planting, however, was not as satisfactory as expected, senior officials of the State Agriculture Department said.
Farmers had sought around 16.64 lakh quintals of seeds from the government for the season.The government has meanwhile set into motion the planning process for rabi. “Rabi planning is underway done. First, the area that has not been sown during the kharif season will be converted into Rabi. Seed availibility with companies is being checked out.The area that has had planting but seen crop damage will also be converted into rabi. Around 63 lakh hectares comes under rabi plantation in the state and this area is likely to increase by around 20%, top officials of the department said.
The government had been planning for the provision of 17,36,420 quintals of seeds and supplied around 14,99,055 quintals of jowar, bajra, rice, maize, tur dal, moong dal, sesame, soybean and cotton seeds for the state this kharif season. Of this around 10 lakh quintals remained. However because of deficient rains in Ahmednagar, Beed, Osmanabad, Jalna, Latur, Nanded, very little kharif planting could be completed. In some cases, farmers used seeds available from their own stocks and this led to further problems, officials said. So far, 97% sowing of the kharif crop has taken place, officials said. However, the continuing rainfall is necessary for the crops to grow satisfactorily.
Maharashtra, where 80% of cultivable land is rain-fed, has been reporting more drought-affected areas than any other state for the last four years, state government data says. In the state, farmland covering 31.11 lakh hectares was affected by drought during 2011-12 and in 2012-13 it reached 48.29 lakh hectares. In the last financial year, 68.04 lakh hectares were declared drought-hit.
The kharif crop has sustained extensive damage and the number of drought-hit villages is likely to remain 8,000 since the amount of damaged crop eligible for relief has been brought down to 33% from 50% by a Union government’s directive.