Cotton acreage may get a leg-up in the current kharif season as farmers in states like Gujarat, Maharashtra and Karnataka are likely to shift to this hardy fibre crop, a key input for the textile industry, given that truant monsoon deprived the region of rains in a crucial phase between June 23 and July 12.
The sowing area under cotton was 13% down at 9.8 million hectares as of July 16 from a year ago.
According to a research report by rating agency Crisil, a continued dry spell in Gujarat may lead to a major crop shift from groundnut to cotton (which can survive in lower rains). The state received 67% lower than normal rain between June 23 and July 12. The seasonal rainfall deficit in the state remains high at 37% of the long period average (LPA) as of Monday, little change from the 39% shortfall as of July 13. The sowing area under cotton was down 10% at 1.8 million hectares while groundnut coverage was down 16% at 1.5 million hectares until July 16.
Maharashtra, the second-biggest producer after Gujarat, and Karnataka are the two other states where Crisil sees a possibility of shifting to cotton from soybean and other crops. However, Maharashtra government officials are hopeful of higher-than-normal acreage (3.9 million hectares) of soybean aided by widespread rains in the past few days across the state.
Farmers are facing a shortage of soybean seeds in many states including Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra as demand soared this year after prices increased substantially. The all India average mandi price, which was at its minimum support price (MSP) level of Rs 3,880/quintal during October-December last year (main harvesting period), soared to `6,741/quintal last month, up by 74% against MSP.
Rajasthan, with the 58% rainfall deficit, may effectuate a shift from soybean to maize in key deficit areas if precipitation does not recover within the next 10 days, Crisil said in the report released Monday.
As the cumulative sowing of all crops till July 16 in the ongoing season was 12% lower, on-year, the report attributed it to the advancement in sowing last year. Monsoon covered the entire country 12 days before the normal schedule of July 8 and the distribution was also largely even.
In the progress of the 2021 monsoon, Crisil said it covered almost 93% of kharif acreage as of June 23. However, the lull in monsoon up to 12 July (from June 19) has weighed on the pace of kharif sowing, it added.
Up to the third week of June, rainfall in India was 28% higher than normal, with all four regions (northwest, central, south, and east and northeast) recording surplus rainfall. However, rainfall turned 32% deficit compared with the LPA, between June 23 and July 12. The northwest region recorded the highest deficit of 55% followed by Central India 39% deficit and the South peninsula recorded 2% lower than normal rainfall (June 23-July 12). Though east and northeast regions recorded a 23% rainfall deficit, the volume of precipitation is quite high to have any adverse impact on sowing.