Pradhan Mantri Kisan Samman Nidhi

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Fruit production in the 2018-19 crop year is likely to drop to 99.92 lakh tonnes Farmers in Maharashtra have reasons to worry as the first advance estimates of the National Horticulture Board have revealed that the state may register a drop in its fruit and vegetable production in the 2018-19 crop year (July-June). 

Fruit production in the 2018-19 crop year is likely to drop to 99.92 lakh tonnes from 117 lakh tonnes in 2017-18. Vegetable production may fall by 7 lakh tonnes (to 116 lakh tonnes) in 2018-19 as against last crop year’s 123 lakh tonnes. Experts are unanimous that drought conditions and changing weather scenario in the state are the main reasons for the possible drop in the vegetable and fruit production. Erratic weather changes affect crops in several ways, besides impacting their flowering and fruiting. Delayed monsoon, long dry spells during the monsoon, ill-timed rain, extreme temperatures during flowering and fruit growth and hailstorms adversely impact crops. 

Estimates hint at fruit production dip

An agriculture department official said the drought-like situation in Maharashtra was the biggest factor that pulled down fruit and vegetable production, affecting major crops such as chili, onions, tomatoes and potatoes. “Sowing did not take place in many locations in the absence of water and and other irrigationNSE 2.63 % sources. Sowing of rabi grain also registered a 59% drop in comparison to the average level,” the official said. 

Maharashtra did not receive rain, which it normally gets, during the withdrawal of monsoon 2018. “This also resulted in less soil moisture. This is one of the most important requisites for crop sowing,” the official said. 

Sahyadri Farmer Producer Group director Vilas Shinde told TOI, “Many farmers are shifting from vegetables and fruits because of the inconsistent market conditions. There are years when a commodity sells for a high price, while the prices hit the rock bottom in other years. As a result, the farmers shift to secured crops like sugar cane, maize and soybean.” Vegetable Growers Association of India president Shriram Gadhave said the past one year has seen a lot of extremes in temperature, affecting fruits and vegetable crops. “The winter in 2018-19 was very extreme, with frost and ice sheets forming over vegetables and fruits at night in parts of the state. February saw record low temperatures. Now, the March heat is becoming unbearable. Temperatures have already started crossing the 40°C mark in many places. This usually happens in April or May,” he said.

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By BOA Bureau