Kharif or monsoon sowing of groundnut in India declined by 0.3 million hectares (MH) for the 2022-23 season to 4.51 MH from 4.86 MH as per government data indicating a 7.2% decrease across the nation.
In Gujarat, the highest groundnut-producing state in the country, the acreage of the important oilseed has gone down to 1.7 MH from 1.9 MH. “A large number of farmers have shifted from groundnut to cotton and soyabean as they fetched higher prices last season in these two commodities,” said Atul Chaturvedi, president of The Solvent Extractors Association of India (SEAI).
According to Chaturvedi, production of groundnut in the country is likely to remain marginally low compared to the previous year’s nearly 5 million tonnes (MT). Apart from shifting to other crops, the late beginning of monsoon season in Saurashtra and North Gujarat regions of Gujarat and low-crop yields are two main reasons for the reduction in groundnut acreage in Gujarat, according to a senior official of the state agriculture department.
In many parts of Saurashtra and North Gujarat regions, farmers started sowing cotton replacing groundnut even before the first shower of this monsoon season. Since the last decade, prices of cotton and groundnut remained almost the same at nearly Rs 1,000 to Rs 1,300 per 20 kg, says the official, but in the last 2021-22 season farmers fetched as high as Rs 2,500 per 20 kg for their cotton yield. In comparison there hasn’t been any change in return on the groundnut crop, he added.
Last season, Gujarat’s kharif groundnut production was nearly 3.5 MT, said Samir Shah, president of Gujarat State Edible Oils and Oil Seeds Association (GEOA). He further added that “considering the favourable weather conditions so far, there would be nearly 20% deficit in kharif groundnut production in Gujarat following decline in acreage.”
Kishor Viradia, president of Saurashtra Oil Mills Association (SOMA), expects higher export demand of groundnut, as well as groundnut oil as inquiries from neighbouring China, have started. Viradia said that the recent spell of rain in the groundnut growing area of Saurashtra and North Gujarat has come as a big boon for the groundnut crop.
He however says that by November, the picture related to groundnut production, exports demand as well as prices will be clearer. With almost 65 to 70% share, Gujarat is the biggest producer of groundnut in the country followed by Rajasthan, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka.