Acreage seen 5-15 per cent down as growers prefer cotton, soyabean, maize, sugarcane
The area under pulses this kharif season will likely decline as farmers in key growing regions such as Maharashtra and Karnataka are seen shifting to other lucrative crops such as cotton, soyabean, maize and sugarcane.
Stakeholders in the pulses sector say the area could drop by 5-15 per cent this kharif season compared with last year on account of a bearish trend in the pulses complex including tur, moong and chana, while returns have been better for growers of other crops such as cotton and soyabean last year. Also, the Government’s liberal import policy for pulses to keep inflation under check is weighing on domestic prices and may influence plantings. Pulses were planted on about 142.37 lakh hectares (lh) in 2021 kharif season compared with 139.34 lh in the previous year.
“There will be a 5 to 8 per cent shift in the acreage this year to cotton, soyabean and maize,” said Nitin Kalantri, a miller in Latur. The prolonged bearish trend in pulses will influence the cropping pattern this year, while traditional growers will continue to plant the legumes. Tur and moong prices are ruling below the minimum support price levels, he said.
Shift in preferences
Kalantri said tur acreage is likely to be down by 5 per cent as farmers still prefer to plant it as an intercrop with soyabean. Moong and urad acreages may also see a shift this year, he said. “Though urad prices are good, farmers in the past couple of years have faced crop losses during August-September due to excess rainfall brought about by the withdrawal of the monsoon. As a result, farmer may prefer to plant soyabean,” he said.
The Government has set the kharif pulses production target of 10.55 million tonnes (mt) against 8.25 mt (third advance estimates) the previous year. The targeted kharif pulses production for the 2022 cropping season includes 4.55 mt of tur, 2.7 mt of urad, 2.5 mt of moong and 0.80 mt of other pulses.
Tur was planted on about 50 lh last kharif with Karnataka topping the acreage at 14.47 lh, followed by Maharashtra at 13.23 lh. Similarly, urad was planted on close to 39 lh led by Madhya Pradesh at 15.65 lh and Uttar Pradesh at 6.99 lh. Moong acreage during the previous kharif season stood at nearly 35 lh, led by Rajasthan at 21.47 lh followed by Karnataka at 4.16 lh.
Rahul Chauhan of IGrain India expects the pulses acreage to come down by 10-15 per cent as farmers are interested in sowing crops such as cotton and soyabean that have given good prices. Farmers who had planted pulses last kharif have not got attractive prices, Chauhan said, adding that the acreages under maize and rice may also see an increase this year.
In the Kalaburgi district of Karnataka, the largest tur growing region in South India, farmers are preferring crops such as sugarcane in the irrigated areas and soyabean in the dry regions. “There are all indications that the acreage will come down this year to about 5.5 lh compared with last year’s 7.5 lh,” said Basavaraj Ingin, President, Karnataka Pradesh Red Gram Growers Association. With the start of new sugar factories in the district, the area under sugarcane is seen going up, he added.
Vivek Agarwal of JLV Agro in Pune said the pulses acreage will definitely be lower this year as the returns have not been good for farmers because of the bearish price trends. Farmers would try to go for other lucrative crops, he said.