Two successive years of crop damage due to heavy rain have forced many soyabean farmers in Madhya Pradesh to shift to paddy cultivation this season, which may result in lower than normal production of the oilseed crop for the third time in a row. Soyabean is the largest oilseed crop of the kharif season.
Madhya Pradesh was the biggest producer of soyabean until 2018-19, when the output was close to 67 lakh tonne. However, production dropped to 49 lakh tonne in 2019-20 and marginally improved to about 51 lakh tonne the following year — much below the normal production of 65 lakh tonne. Maharashtra emerged as the biggest producer with about 62 lakh tonne in 2020-21.
“Many farmers are asking for paddy seeds as they want to shift from soyabean after they suffered losses during the last two years. Also, due to lower rainfall in the past few days, some farmers, particularly in rainfed areas, are opting for urad as an alternative,” said Sanjeev Prajapati, an executive with a company engaged in crop advisory services in the Madhya Pradesh.
The high rate and non-availability of seeds are other factors contributing to the shift from soyabean, he said.
Sowing area under soyabean in Madhya Pradesh was at 44.7 lakh hectare as of July 23, down 19% from the year-ago level, while paddy acreage was 44% higher at 16.8 lakh hectare in the same period. Urad area was down by over 30% at 9.37 lakh hectare.
Madhya Pradesh has received 2% above normal rain so far since June 1, largely because precipitation was 36% above average in the first month of the June-September monsoon season. Rainfall in July, the wettest month of the season, is expected to be 11-12% below normal in the state.
Soyabean prices in many places in Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra have crossed a record Rs 10,000/ quintal. This is against an all-India average of Rs 3,904/ quintal, marginally above the minimum support price of Rs 3,880, during the key harvesting period October-December 2020.
“The state government and soyabean processors need to work closely to ensure risk to farmers is minimised either through crop insurance or compensation in case of natural calamities beyond anyone’s control. Otherwise, farmers will shift to some other crop that will fetch assured returns,” an expert said.
Madhya Pradesh is yet to take a decision on rolling out the Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana for this kharif season.