Monday, August 3, 2009

Jamnagar District News Samachar

Soya protein to resurrect Gujarat farmers crippled by delayed rains.

Delayed monsoon has led to the introduction of a new crop in Gujarat—soyabean. Cultivation has been done on an area of over 1.5 lakh hectares; and for farmers, this seems to be a good alternate crop, for soyabean does not only require less rain and time to grow, it also rakes in profit as much as groundnut, if not more.

“As monsoon was delayed by 20-30 days, farmers have tried soyabean as an alternative, replacing groundnut,” said Bhartiya Kisan Sangh president, Praful Sengalia.

He added, “It has been done mostly in Junagadh and some parts of Jamnagar district, touching a total sowing area of around 1.5 lakh hectares, which is good for a new crop.”

Pulses and sesame have also been a choice of farmers in case of less or erratic rains, but this is for the first time that soyabean cultivation has been done at this scale.

Junagadh Agriculture University Vice-Chancellor, K Patel, said: “Soyabean grows faster than groundnut and requires less water. That was the reason many farmers chose it when rains were delayed.” But following heavy rains from the second week of July, sowing of groundnut and cotton—the primary crops—took the centre stage.

Until now, farmers did not consider soyabean, as in Gujarat, groundnut oil is consumed much more that any other edible oil like sesame, castor or soyabean. Besides, there are around 900 groundnut oil mills in the total seven districts of Saurashtra.

“Although soyabean consumption is less in Gujarat, the farmers seem to be confident to find buyers in other states and get good returns like groundnut,” said Sengalia.

Patel and other farmers like him say soyabean cultivation requires less water and time, which means relatively lower cost of production. “This can help in getting better profit margins,” said Patel.

However, except soyabean, there has been little change in the sowing pattern in Saurashtra, which is a hub for groundnut and cotton.

According to the Agriculture Department, by Sunday, sowing in Saurashtra has been done over 37.17 lakh hectares, which is nearly 90 per cent of the total cultivation area in the eight districts of Saurashtra-Kutch, including Rajkot, Jamnagar, Junagadh, Porbandar, Surendranagar, Bhavnagar, Amreli and Kutch. This includes cultivation of groundnut in nearly 15 lakh hectares and cotton over 13 lakh hectares.

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