Kharif production in Maharashtra is likely to decline by 20 per cent following a long dry spell during the second half of the monsoon between August and September. The dry spell is also likely to affect the rabi season beginning November.
“Preliminary reports show the kharif production will drop by 20 per cent. The dry spell has also put a question mark on rabi production,” said a senior official in the agriculture department.
While indicating that there would be no shortage of foodgrain, officials indicated that the drought situation in Maharashtra in view of less rainfall would, however, thwart the government’s target to double production and increase the income of farmers by 2019.
Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis has already set up a task-force. A drought-proofing exercise in eight districts post kharif harvest and ahead of the rabi season will commence in which drones and other advanced technology will assess the severity of drought.
The districts include Solapur, Jalgaon, Raigad, Beed, Buldhana, Nagpur and Latur. Of the 355 talukas in Maharashtra, 175 talukas have received rain less than 75 mm. The average rainfall for the 355 talukas is 77 per cent.
The total area under kharif sowing is 150 lakh hectares: soyabean on 40 lakh hectares and cotton on 42 lakh hectares.
Cultivation of pulses takes up the remaining area. Soyabean and cotton accounts for almost 80 per cent of kharif cash crops in the state. Sources said soyabean production was estimated at 450 lakh quintal, moong at 14.7 lakh quintal and urad at 14.7 lakh quintal.
“The present situation is a serious cause of concern but not as bad as witnessed during 2015-16 when the rainfall recorded was 59 per cent,” an official said.
In 2013-14, kharif production was 196 lakh metric tonne when the rainfall was 109 per cent. In 2014-15, it was 132 lakh metric tonne with 70 per cent rainfall. In 2015-16, kharif production was 105 lakh metric tonne with rainfall as low as 59 per cent. In 2016-17, it was 223 lakh metric tonne with 95 per cent rainfall. In 2017-18, kharif production was 180 lakh metric tonne with 84 per cent rainfall.