Monsoon delay worries farmers in cotton belt
NAGPUR: The first few showers in the second week of June proved deceptive for farmers in areas like Pusad and Umarkhed in suicide-prone Yavatmal district where about 70% of farmers took up sowing in the mainly cotton growing belt. Ruing their impatience, they are now desperately praying that a strong monsoon system develops in the region so that the seeds do not go waste.
Fortunately, Yavatmal district is an exception. In other districts of Vidarbha, farmers showed more patience. Having learned their lessons in last five years when monsoon has invariably arrived late, they are still to start sowing for the Kharif season that normally begins in first week of June.
"Across western Vidarbha, not more than 5% of sowing has taken place," said Amravati division's joint director of agriculture Prakash Ambulgekar. He allayed fears that wherever sowing has been done after the first showers, seeds may germinate as weather is mostly cloudy and the days are no more extremely hot.
Divisional joint director of Nagpur J C Bhutada also averred that only 10 to 15% sowing, that too in some areas of Nagpur and Wardha, has been reported. "We are advising farmers to wait for suitable conditions and start sowing only after regular monsoon develops. Unless there is protective irrigation facility, farmers should not rush to start sowing," he said.
"In large tracts of Yavatmal, sowing has been completed. In some areas, even fertiliser has been applied in the field," now we are anxiously awaiting good rains. If it does not rain well in next one week, we will be ruined," said Munna Bolenwar, a farmer from Pandharkawda tehsil in Yavatmal. "Already there was acute shortage of Bt seed. We had to buy the variety at a premium. A packet with printed price of Rs 900 was sold at anywhere between Rs 1200 and Rs 1400. There was panic buying amid reports that farmers from neighbouring Andhra Pradesh were buying up seeds because of shortage in their local markets," said Kishore Tiwari of Vidarbha Jan Andolan Samiti. "If re-sowing has to be done, farmers will have tough time getting fresh seed supply," he added.
However, Ambulgekar said there was no shortage of seeds and traders were creating artificial crisis. "We are on alert to check any cheating by dealers. But then, mostly farmers have old bonding with local farm input merchants and do not complain when they are overcharged," said Amulgekar. Tiwari expressed apprehension that if it led to re-sowing, markets would be flooded with spurious Bt cotton seeds as the preferred brands were already in short supply.