More farmers expected to switch to soya this year
With cotton prices down, the area under sowing for soybean is estimated to go up this year. The monsoon delay could complicate things, but even if it hits Madhya Pradesh, the lead growing state, by the end of this month, the area under the crop should go up.
“We are expecting a five to seven per cent increase in overall acreage," said Rajesh Agrawal, ex-chairman and spokesperson of the Soybean Processors Association of India (Sopa). The Indore-based Sopa is the only independent body that conducts crop surveys and estimates.
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Of last year’s 10.3 million hectares sown, Madhya Pradesh led with 5.7. million hectares, Maharashtra with three mn hectares, Rajasthan with 896,000 hectares, Karnataka with 217,000 hectares, Andhra with 155,000 hectares, Chhattisgarh with 150,000 hectares and the rest of India had 124,000 hectares.
“There are two reasons Maharashtra, Rajasthan and the southern states are most likely to up acreage — the fall in realisation of cotton and better realisation in soya. It (total) may touch 1.1 million ha," Agrawal told Business Standard.
The Union government had raised the Minimum Support Price (MSP) for soybean by 30 per cent, up to Rs 2,200 a quintal, noted Sushil Goenka, president of the Solvent Extracters Association of India. As the oilseeds’ MSP had also been raised by 21 to 37 per cent, he said there would be diversion from cotton to these crops as well.
N S Sipani, a prominent farmer who also runs an agricultural research entity at Mandsaur (in the Malwa region of MP) in association with the Indian Agriculture Research Institute, said monsoon normally hits Madhya Pradesh by June 15-25. “If it skips till June 30, it means we will have a delayed soya crop," he said.
Madhya Pradesh grows the finest varieties of soya, but the yield per hectare is better in Maharashtra at 1,256 kg per hectares against 1,077 kg per hectares in Madhya Pradesh. Government officials say they have yet to prepare sowing estimates.
“We have yet to send our staff into the fields," an official said.