Poor rains to bring down crop outputt

The output of key kharif crops like onion, cotton, sugarcane and oilseeds are likely to fall due to deficient rainfall in many parts of India, including Maharashtra, Gujarat and Karnataka. Production of cotton, soybean and groundnut are also expected to fall significantly, even as onion prices have doubled in recent weeks.

Wholesale onion prices have almost doubled in Maharashtra over the past one week and risen by about 40 per cent in Delhi during the same period. Retail prices have Retail prices have touched Rs 30/ kg in most cities.

“Cotton yield in non-irrigated areas is bound to decline. Price of raw cotton has increased to Rs 5,800/quintal and farmers are holding on to the crop expecting a further rise in prices,” said Pradip Jain, president, Jalgaon Ginning and Pressing Association.

According to the estimate released by Solvent Extractors’ Association of India, groundnut production in the country will be 37.35 lakh tonnes as against 52.75 lakh tonne f the previous year –– down 29 per cent.

“Groundnut production will decline mainly due to deficient rainfall in Saurashtra region. However, there is stock of 6 lakh tonnes with Nafed,” said BV Mehta, executive director, SEA. Groundnut production in Gujarat is estimated to fall by 49 per cent. Though the edible oil industry still believes that soybean production in the current season may still be higher than the previous year, farmers from Maharashtra’s Marathwada region fear that there may be a major fall in production due to dry weather.

Sugarcane production is also going to be lower due to rainfall deficiency in Maharashtra. The industry and the government have informally lowered production estimate from the earlier target of 105 lakh tonnes to 95 lakh tonnes now. Sugarcane is already being used as fodder for cattle as the drought has led to fodder shortage.