Sunday, December 4, 2011

After cotton, soyabean crisis crops up-TIMES OF INDIA

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After cotton, soyabean crisis crops up

NAGPUR: If farmers are complaining about the poor price for cotton, the other favourite cash crop, soyabean, has left them disappointed too. Farm activists and cultivators themselves say that poor yields and low prices have hit soyabean, which is sown in part of the land by cotton growers.

It is like a second line of defence for them along with tur, which is intercropped with cotton. The only hope left for them now is the tur crop, but it is too early to assess the yield since the harvesting season is still a month away.

There has been abundant supply of soyabean elsewhere, which has reigned in the prices to last year's level of Rs2,000 to 2,200 a quintal. But farmers here have reported a rather low output, due to which the current market rates are too low to recover input costs, which are on the rise.

At some of the market yards, prices are being quoted in the range Rs1,800-1,900, say sources. Farmers are demanding a MSP of Rs3,000 a quintal for soyabean, as against Rs1,670-1,690 for black and yellow varieties respectively.

Ample overall supply may have kept the prices at last year's level, but the output in this region has certainly taken a hit. The oil extraction activity from soyabean is also dull due to rising interest rates, said Nandlal Malu of Murli Agro. However, there are reports of better crop due to increased acreage in parts of Amravati and Katol.

"Like cotton, late and erratic rains have hit soyabean too. Although final official estimates have not been drawn yet, 30% loss is expected in Vidarbha. Farmers with poor quality soil or no irrigation facilities may suffer more," said a senior official in the state's agriculture department. Losses of up to 30% matter a lot, especially if overheads rise considerably.

It was a double whammy for farmers since there was a long gap after the first showers, but it rained excessively during Ganesh festival, only to be followed by another dry spell in October first week, when another round of rains was expected, said the source. This hampered paddy cultivation in some parts of Gadchiroli and Chandrapur, since transplantation of the crop could not take place. The only hope is the tur crop, but low rains may have taken toll on that too. The picture will be clear only in January when tur harvest begins.

Amit Pawde, an engineer-turned farmer at Narkhed, alleges traders have already piled up huge quantity of soyabean brought from farmers and are waiting to sell when the rates go up. Pawde says that in some cases the yield is below a quintal in an acre. The increase in input cost has thinned the profit margins, especially with DAP fertilizer rates going up by Rs500 in a year and load-shedding adding to the farmers' woes.

Normally, farmers keep one-third of the holding for soyabean. With a low price, government intervention is needed more here. However, National Agriculture Cooperative Marketing Federation of India (NAFED) has not set up procurement centres this year, says Kishore Tiwari of Vidarbha Jan Andolan Samiti, a farmers rights organization. Tiwari estimates the output to be within 2 quintals per acre, which is a major fall from regular yield.

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