Ahead of the coming kharif season, soybean farmers across the country are likely to face a shortage of certfied seeds since the production of breeder seeds has been affected over the last three years owing to drought conditions, top officials of the Soyabean Processors Association of India (SOPA) said. Acreage for the season, however, is likely to remain unaffected with predictions of a good monsoon. During the 2015 kharif season, soybean was sown in an area of 110.65 lakh hectares.
“This year, farmers may end up using their own seeds for sowing operations, which they usually retain at the end of the season. However, there could be a shortage of foundation seeds, the supply of which has been affected due to fall in production of breeder seeds, DN Pathak, executive director, SOPA, said. There should not be any shortage of seeds for sowing operations since the majority of farmers will use their own seeds, he said. The total requirement of soyabean seeds for kharif is usually pegged at 3.43 lakh tonnes, whereas the availability is estimated at 2.73 lakh tonnes every year.
According to Pathak, the entire situation depends on monsoon. “While it is too early to give out estimates, we expect a good crop and better than last year if the predictions of a good monsoon are correct. Last year has been among the worst years for the crop because of the drought. However, I do not believe that there will be a major shift towards cotton since both cotton and soya require water and if there is no rain. both the crops are affected,” he said.
Moreover, both soybean and cotton have been commanding good prices and farmers nowadays seekshort-duration crops. Therefore, it may be difficult to predict at this point of time,” he added. Around 60% of the country’s soya crop is in Madhya Pradesh. While farmers in Maharashtra and Karnataka had faced drought-like situations, in the Dewas district of Madhya Pradesh, it is excessive rain that had destroyed huge swathes of soybean crop. 2015 was the second consecutive year in which farmers faced losses. In Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra, several lakh hectares had been affected due to rain. In Maharashtra, the area under Soybean cultivation is 35.778 lakh hectares.
According to officials, the seed is usually sown 4 cm deep and if there is not enough rain, the seeds do no germinate in time. Last year, farmers in Vidarbha, Akola, Nanded and Parbhani districts of the state had complained that their seeds have not germinated in time.
MG Shembekar, vice-president, National Seeds Association of India ( NSAI), confirmed the shortage in availability in certified soybean seeds but hastened to add that there is no need for a panic situation in the market.