By Nayan Dave
Groundnut cultivation in Gujarat is likely to decline as progressive monsoon sowing for the state’s main kharif crop is almost 0.2 million hectare (MH) less in the current season so far as compared to the previous year’s 1.77 MH during the corresponding period.
Latest data released by the state agriculture department indicates three factors – late beginning of monsoon season in Saurashtra and north Gujarat regions, low-crop yields and higher price of cotton which are making farmers move from groundnut to other cash crops.
In many parts of Saurashtra and north Gujarat regions, farmers started sowing cotton, replacing groundnut, even before the first shower of monsoon, said an official of the agriculture department. “Compared to groundnut, cotton crop can survive better during lean weak monsoon situations,” the official said.
However, the state has received good rains from the second week of July which would hopefully increase groundnut sowing, especially in the Saurashtra region. In the last kharif season, groundnut sowing in Gujarat was more than 1.9 MH. According to the official, even in the case of good rains, acreage of groundnut in the state was unlikely to match the previous year’s figure as farmers were heavily banking upon the cotton crop.
“The reason is obvious why farmers are preferring cotton over groundnut. Since the last one decade, prices of cotton and groundnut remained almost the same at nearly Rs 1,000 to Rs 1,300 per 20 kg. However, in the 2021-22 season farmers fetched around Rs 2,500 per 20 kg for their cotton yield while the return on groundnut remained the same,” he said.
Declining acreage of groundnut in Gujarat is a cause of concern considering the country’s heavy dependence on imported edible oils, said Samir Shah, president of Gujarat State Edible Oils and Oil Seeds Association (GEOA).
“The government should come forward and ensure higher return to oilseed growers, including that of groundnut. Policy makers should come out with proper plans to encourage farmers for indigenous oilseeds like mustard seeds, rapeseed, groundnut etc,” he said.
Shah said that looking at current trend groundnut sowing in Gujarat is likely to remain around 20% lower compared to previous year.
If acreage of groundnut under cultivation remains lower, it is likely to push up prices of groundnut oil even further, he added.
Gujarat is the biggest producer of groundnut in India with around 4 million tonne production followed by Rajasthan, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka.