A senior agriculture department officer said that because of the government announcing that there would be no irrigation water supplied after March 15, farmers with groundwater sources chose to sow early, to be able to use irrigation facilities at least once before the cut kicked in.
Bharat Chaudhary, a farmer from Kalol said, “Groundwater is available at around 500 feet in our village. I have a borewell, so instead of letting my fields lie fallow, I decided to draw groundwater and sowed them. Because of the water cut, farmers who usually cultivate summer crops will incur losses ranging from Rs 1 lakh to Rs 5 lakh, depending on the size of their holdings.”
Prakash Patel, the district agriculture officer for Banaskantha, says “Water was available till March 15 and farmers thus went in for a summer crop. With check dams and other conservation efforts, the water table has risen and farmers are now more dependent on groundwater.”
Patel, who also holds land in the district, says, “I have never got canal water and we have relied heavily on groundwater. My family is able to take crops a year. The higher water table has helped me.”
According to the data released, the area sown in North Gujarat increased by 55% from last week. As on March 20, 1.92 lakh hectares was sown, while on March 27 it is nearly 3 lakh hectares.
The acreage sown at this point is 99,200 hectares in Saurashtra, 1.45 lakh hectares in central Gujarat and 42,200 hectares in south Gujarat.