Castor crop output may fall 20% to 11 lakh tonne in 2018-19

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Published: February 26, 2019 1:41:39 AM

The total area under castor in India for 2018-19 is estimated to be 7,69,570 hectare as per the government’s forecast against 2017-18 estimate of 8,21,600 hectare, which has decreased by 7% compared to the previous year, it revealed.

Total area under castor in Gujarat for 2018-19 is taken to be 5,33,800 hectare as per the government’s estimates, against last year’s estimate of 5,91,000 hectare, which has declined by about 10% as compared to the previous year.

The total production of castor crop in India in 2018-19 is estimated to be down by 20% to 11.26 lakh tonne in 2018-19 from 14.16 lakh tonne estimated in 2017-18, says a survey conducted by the Solvent Extractors Association (SEA).

The area and yield have declined mainly due to inadequate monsoons, according to the survey.

The total area under castor in India for 2018-19 is estimated to be 7,69,570 hectare as per the government’s forecast against 2017-18 estimate of 8,21,600 hectare, which has decreased by 7% compared to the previous year, it revealed.

Acreage has been reported to have declined in Gujarat, the largest growing state, but it is expected to be almost flat in Rajasthan and Andhra Pradesh/Telangana. The average yield for 2018-19 is estimated slightly down, -12.6%, to 1,520 kg per hectare compared to 1,740 kg per hectare, based on farmers’ response about their yield expectation on present crop conditions, the survey said.

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SEA conducts castor survey for crop estimation in major growing states like Gujarat, Rajasthan, Andhra Pradesh and Telangana every year. This year, SEA commissioned Indian Agribusiness Systems, known as “Agriwatch” in the industry, to conduct a crop estimation study in above states through field surveys and remote sense data analysis.

Total area under castor in Gujarat for 2018-19 is taken to be 5,33,800 hectare as per the government’s estimates, against last year’s estimate of 5,91,000 hectare, which has declined by about 10% as compared to the previous year.

The Agriwatch field survey suggests area under castor to be less by 6% this year as compared to last year’s government estimate and is estimated at 5,54,160 hectare. Using remote sensing technique, the castor acreage for the state is estimated at 5,49,000 hectare for 2018-19. The major reasons for lower acreage this year is less rainfall in key growing belt.

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“Estimated average yield for 2018-19 is expected to be 1,751 kg per hectare against last year’s estimate of 2,029 kg per hectare, a fall of 13.7%. Overall, the farmers are expecting decline in yield this year due to weak monsoon, less growth of plants and less availability of water for irrigation. Total seed production in the state with decrease in area (-10%) and less yield (-13.7%), is estimated down to 9.35 lakh tonne in 2018-19 from last year’s estimate of 12 lakh tonne. The seed arrivals have started in mandis as farmers are selling in small lots to get the higher prevailing prices,” the survey observed.

The first estimate by the government of Gujarat have also projected the crop to be lower by more than 30%. In the last few years, we have underestimated the carry forward stock comforting the supply situation despite a crop of 11.73 lakh tonne in 2017 and 14.43 lakh tonne in 2018 against an estimated consumption of about 17-18 lakh tonne during these periods, Abhay Udeshi, chairman, SEA Castor Seed & Oil Promotion Council said in a recent castor meet.

The estimates of the carry forward for the current year ranges from 2,50,000 tonne to 4,00,000 tonne.

In the year gone by, after last year’s crop figure, the price of castor seeds remained subdued in the peak arrival period — February to May, he observed.

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Thus, the price realised by farmers was not attractive enough for those who sold larger portions of their harvests between February to June, he pointed out.

“The lack of interest became visible in the sowing figures. The prices started to respond to the unfavourable rainfall data in the main castor growing region, Gujarat and the low sowing figures in beginning of July, 2018,” he said.

Although this improvement in the prices brought many farmers back to castor farming the number doesn’t look comforting enough, especially in the light of the fact that we have been consuming from the carry forward stocks, Udeshi said.

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