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MP farmers worried as standing soy crop suffers pest attack at some places

Sanjeeb Mukherjee/New Delhi 14 Sep 18 | 07:56 PM


The hopes of Madhya Pradesh’s farmers for a good soybean harvest, because of rise in acreage compared to last year, could be dashed in a few areas. This is because the standing crops at a few places have reportedly been hit by the white stem fly, which could lower yields.

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Though senior industry officials discounted any largescale impact of white stem fly in the final harvest, a few farmer leaders said that in several districts of the state, an attack has been noticed.

“In some isolated fields, there have been reports of pest attack, but it isn’t big enough to cause any largescale damage and we are hopeful of harvesting a bumper soy crop this year," said D N Pathak, executive director of Soybean Processors Association of India (SOPA) told Business Standard.

He said a final figure on the estimated soybean production in Madhya Pradesh will be known in the next few weeks after field surveys are completed by the association.

According to official estimates, till Friday, soybean crop has been planted in around 5.31 million hectares of land. This is around 6.14 per cent more than the area covered last year as farmers planted in more area in the hope for better returns.

“In some places, we were hoping to get a harvest of at least 1,000 kg per hectare of soybean but now it may go down due to the pest attack," Kedar Sirohi, head of Aam Kisan Union and a farmer group from Madhya Pradesh, said. The early varieties of the new crop will start hitting the market next week.

There hasn’t been any official response to the pest attack.

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Elsewhere in the country, till Friday, total kharif crops have been planted in around 105.30 million hectares, which is 0.72 per cent more than the area covered during the same period last year.

Area sown under paddy, the main kharif crop, has gone up by 2.27 per cent to 38.33 million hectares so far in the 2018-19 kharif season due to higher acreage in states like Karnataka, Telangana and Tamil Nadu, the agriculture ministry’s data released on Friday showed. Paddy acreage stood at 37.48 million hectares in the previous year. Kharif sowing begins with the onset of southwest monsoon from June and harvesting starts from October. Pulses have been sown in an area of 13.74 million hectares so far this season, almost close to the figure of 13.86 million hectares in the same season last year.

Coarse cereals have been sown in lesser areas at 17.54 million hectares against 18.22 million hectares earlier.

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Among cash crops, cotton has been sown in 12.05 million hectares so far in this kharif season, slightly lower than the 12.09 hectares in the year-ago period.

Sugarcane has been sown in 5.19 million hectares against 4.98 million hectares last year, while jute has been sown in 0.70 million hectares, which is almost the same as last year.

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