No corresponding drop in agricultural production
Rising fertiliser costs and falling soil health appear to have at last started prodding farmers to move away from using synthetic fertilisers, if one were to rely on figures from western Vidarbha. Recent figures released by the office of the deputy director of Agriculture, Amravati division, shows that in the past two agricultural seasons, the procurement of chemical fertilisers has registered a significant drop in all six districts in the division. In the entire division, procurement in the year 2012-13 was around 78,000 tonnes less than the previous season. According to deputy director of agriculture, Ashok Lokhande, the figure for the current season is likely to drop further.
The positive side of the picture is that the drop in fertiliser procurement has not come with a corresponding drop in crop production, he informed.
According to Department, till as late as 2011-12, farmers were in the habit of stocking up chemical fertilisers months in advance of the sowing season, and the prevalent practice was to apply 8-10 bags of fertiliser per ha during the entire cropping season from June to February. However, now, because of the fact that fertiliser costs have doubled in the past two years from around Rs 350 to Rs 550 per bag to Rs 1,000 to Rs 1,200 per bag, no more than 2-3 bags of fertiliser is being applied per ha.
The main crops in sestern Vidarbha are cotton, soybean, jowar, chickpea and lentils in Kharif season, and wheat, grams and vegetables in the Rabi season. The reduction in the use of fertilisers has not resulted in any corresponding drop in the production of any of these crops, says Lokhande.
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