Erratic rainfall impacts Kharif crops, sharp decline expected


The delayed and inconsistent monsoon has taken a toll on Maharashtra’s kharif crop. The state’s agriculture department’s initial production estimate predicts a 22% decrease in foodgrain production this kharif season compared to the 5-year average. Pulses, in particular, are anticipated to witness a substantial 35% drop in production compared to the 5-year average.
Vinaykumar Awate, the state’s joint director of agriculture, explained, “The monsoon’s late arrival in June, coupled with excess rain in July, adversely affected the crops. Subsequently, a prolonged dry spell in August during the flowering stage will further hinder production and crop yield.”
Activists emphasize that the impact on farmers remains to be determined. Among the principal crops cultivated in the state, cash crops such as soybean and cotton dominate the landscape.
Pulses, especially mung and urad dal, are expected to bear the brunt of the erratic monsoon. Mung production is forecasted to plummet by 66%, while urad dal is expected to decline by 50% compared to the 5-year average. Tur dal production is also projected to dip by 30%. In the cereals category, kharif jowar’s production is set to decrease by 67%, and bajra by 66% compared to the 5-year average.
Concerning oilseeds, soybean, the largest crop, is anticipated to face a relatively modest 6% reduction compared to the 5-year average. However, smaller crops like sunflower, groundnut, and sesame are poised for more significant declines. Groundnut production is expected to dip by 41%, sunflower production by 90%, and sesame production by 65% compared to the 5-year average. While Maharashtra has received approximately 91% of the average rainfall, certain regions, including North Maharashtra, Pune, and Marathwada, have faced rain deficits. August was particularly challenging, marked by a three-week-long dry spell and a 60% rain deficit in the state.