Good returns: More farmers take to oilseed, soy cultivation in Madhya Pradesh
Sullakhedi, a dusty village near Indore which is home to several soybean farmers, is eagerly awaiting the onset of monsoon to plant the oilseed, which is now trading at Rs3,900 per quintal in the wholesale mandis, almost Rs1,200 per quintal more than the government price.
Like Sullakhedi, farmers in the fertile Malwa-Nimar belt of the state are also set to sow the oilseed that has been fetching them good returns over the past many years, notwithstanding last year’s crop damage following unseasonal rain.
Farmers are expected to plant more soybean and pulses this kharif season as they look to profit from a rally in prices, say experts. The increase in the soybean cultivation area is likely to come at the expense of cotton as prices have plunged this year, say experts.
“We expect the soybean cultivation area to increase by at least 5% this year (compared to the previous year),” Indore-based Soybean Processors Association of India (SOPA) office-bearer Rajesh Agarawal said.
Last year, farmers in India cultivated the crop on 108 lakh hectares according to estimates released by SOPA.
However, the output at 104 lakh tonnes was below initial estimates, as the erratic rainfall damaged crops in some regions bringing down the yield.
“This year the acreage will rise mainly in Maharashtra and the southern states as Madhya Pradesh is quite saturated,” Agrawal said adding that unlike last year there is ample stock of good quality seeds.
Soybean is mainly a rain-fed crop and most farmers begin sowing in mid-June after the arrival of Southwest monsoon.
The crop starts arriving in markets from October. The best window for sowing soybean is between June 15 and July 10 and the crop needs about four inches of rainfall before sowing could commence.
“The forecast is for normal rain and anyway the rain distribution more than the quantum is what matters (for soybean),” Agrawal said.
Higher prices of pulses will also encourage farmers to plant more this season, Indian Pulses and Grains Association has said.
The prices of most pulses have shot up by more than 30% in the past one month. Madhya Pradesh is one of the largest producers of pulses in the country.