Tillers fear profits to be ‘peanuts’

  • | Friday | 22nd September, 2023

Rajkot: Farmers in Saurashtra are staring at a major loss of groundnut crop this year because of delayed rain and the menace of white grubs. Though the recent rain came as relief, still farmers say that the damage has already been done as the rain did not come when it should have come. Crop damage, coupled with the high MSP declared by the Union government this year, is expected to keep groundnut oil price high this year. The harvesting season starts in October and when the new crop arrives, new oil also comes to the market.Decreased acreage of groundnut cultivation is also another reason that is going to bring down the crop production this year. The state government data says the groundnut acreage this time decreased by 73,000 hectares compared to the last kharif season.Mahesh Khuman, a farmer in Savar Kundla taluka of Amreli district, who has cultivated groundnut in 30 bigha land said: The rain has been scattered this year and we did not receive rain in Amreli district in time. We are staring at a 50% yield this year because of delayed rain. A farmer in Jetpur taluka of Rajkot district, Pravin Patodiya, says white grubs have caused heavy damage to his groundnut crop. There has been a menace of white grubs for the last two to three years and this year it has increased, said Patodiya.Crop damage will add to the worry of oil millers who stare at heavy loss in production this year. Kishor Viradia, president of SOMA (Saurashtra Oil Mills Association), says there will be 60% to 70% production this year compared to the last kharif season. The delayed rain has done huge damage to the crop. Irrigation cannot match the natural rain and moreover farmers do not get sufficient electricity for irrigation. We will start our survey for production estimate from next month, says Viradia.Scientists say the damage done by white grubs is severe as the soil pests strike the roots of the crop and slowly spread across the entire field. Managing white grubs is important from the beginning of the season. A female white grub lays anywhere between 400 and 500 eggs. It goes inside the soil after mating and lays eggs there and within 15 to 20 days, caterpillars come out from the soil in big numbers, explains R B Madariya, a groundnut research scientist at Junagadh Agricultural University. Madariya says heavy rain kills the caterpillars, but this time during the mating period the rain stopped. As a result, the white grubs damaged the crop, he explains.Crop damage, reduced production due to decreased acreage, and high MSP wont allow groundnut oil price to subside. This year, the MSP of groundnut has been declared at Rs 6,377 per quintal which is Rs 527 higher than that of last year.There are several factors that decide the groundnut oil price — MSP, crop size, how much is used in HPS domestically, what is the export demand of HPS, and what is the export demand of groundnut oil. The season will open in October, but it is believed that the groundnut oil price will remain significantly higher compared to other edible oils, said Samir Shah, the president of Gujarat State Edible Oils and Oil Seeds Association.

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