The Indian Meteorology Department (IMD) predicting below-normal rain this year and the Centre for Research in Dryland Agriculture (CRIDA) forecasting a delayed monsoon in Maharashtra have prompted the authorities to keep a contingency plan ready.
Suggestions include farmers opting for crops that can give adequate yields if a delayed monsoon brings in less rain. P N Deshmukh, Deputy Director, Extension (Agriculture), said a contingency plan was needed for farmers. Agriculture universities — Mahatma Phule Krishi Vidyapeeth, Rahuri, Marathwada Krishi Vidyapeeth, Parbhani, Punjabrao Deshmukh Krishi Vidyapeeth Akola and Dr Balasaheb Sawant Konkan Krishi Vidyapeeth Dapoli — were asked to prepare area-specific plans. This assumes importance as 82 per cent of the 173.4 lakh hectares of cultivated land in Maharashtra are rain-fed.
Deshmukh said the plan was devised keeping in view monsoon failure, taking cropping cycle and crop and seed availability into account. “In case monsoon is delayed by 15 to 30 days, agricultural extension officers would advise farmers to go for crops that need less water,” he said.
Maharashtra usually receives 45 per cent of the monsoon in June. By July-August it often touches 100 percent. Often it exceeds the normal. Major sowing takes place in June in the state.
For districts in Western Maharashtra and Khandesh, bajra, tur and sunflower have been recommended instead of pulses. For Marathwada where pulses and groundnut are sown, bajra, soyabean, tur and sunflower have been recommended.
This would require 3115.2 quintals of bajra, 5,841 quintals of tur and 3,894 quintals of sunflower seeds for Western Maharashtra and Khandesh. Similarly, 5,066 quintals of bajra, 56,992.5 quintals of soyabean, 7,599 quintals of tur and 5,066 quintals of sunflower seed would be required for Marathwada.
Deshmukh said seed corporations and fertiliser companies have to be ready to meet the demand. “The revenue department would be roped in,” he said.