Prices of pulses and grains are set to rise further in the coming days, with the latest figures by the Maharashtra agriculture department presenting a grim picture.
Agricultural production for the year in the state has dipped to more than 30%, the lowest in about a decade, revealed the advance estimates production figures released last week. The production of foodgrains and oilseeds in the rabi season dipped by 31% and 88%, respectively, over its average in last five years. In the kharif season, the reduction was 27% and 38% to the average.
Among the worst-hit crops in both seasons are jowar, wheat, sunflower, tur, mung and udad. Experts estimate that this will lead to rise in prices of food grains and pulses.
“The prices of pulses such as tur, moong and udad have already gone up by about 50% to 70% and are expected to go up further. The dip in production at the national level has led to the rise in procurement prices, hinting at a further rise in retail prices,” said Vijay Jawambhia, an agriculturist from Vidarbha.
“The rates of gram and tur were Rs 2,500 and Rs 4,000 a quintal, respectively, last year. This year, lower production has resulted in the rise of the prices to Rs 4,100 and Rs 6,000 a quintal, respectively,” added Jawambhia.
Agriculture and revenue minister Eknath Khadse said, “It is obvious that the production has reduced on the backdrop of the natural calamities, but we have enough stocks. We are monitoring the situation closely.”
Khadse added the government will do everything possible to protect the farmers’ interests. “It is true the farmers are in distress, and we will stand by him. Besides restructuring loans, we will introduce a credit policy for which the government will become the guarantor for their loans,” he said.
Relief package to farmers
In the past four years, the government has distributed more than Rs 17,000 crore towards relief packages to farmers in distress owing to drought, hailstorm and unseasonal rains
This year, the government has already distributed 90% of Rs 4,200 crore package announced as relief package for 90 lakh farmers from 24,000 villages.
Blame it on unseasonal rains, hailstorm
Vijay Jawambhia, an agriculturist from Vidarbha, said as per rough estimates, the reduction of the production of soyabean and cotton alone in the Vidarbha is worth Rs 20,000 crore. “Due to the scanty and irregular rainfall last monsoon, the moisture levels in the soil dipped and because of this, enough Rabi crops could not be sown. Also, the crops that were sown were damaged by the unseasonal rains and hailstorms late last year and earlier this year,” he added.
An officer from the agriculture department claimed the production this year has been the lowest in at least a decade and lesser than 2011-12, when state witnessed severe drought.
Crop seasons in India
Kharif (June to November) season: The crops grown in this period are called summer crops and they include rice, maize, bajra, ragi, pulses, soyabean, groundnut, cotton among others
Rabi (October to February) season: The crops grown in this period are called winter crops and they include wheat, barley, oats, gram, linseed, mustard among others.