Considering three consecutive years of drought in Marathwada region and weak monsoon last year, the government is trying to bring more farmers under the crop insurance net to compensate them for failed crops.
Speaking to reporters at Y B Chavan Center near Mantralaya on Thursday, a senior official from state Agriculture Ministry said that at present only 30 per cent of farmers are covered under crop insurance scheme Prime Minister Fasal Bima Yojana (PMFBY).
"The government intends to raise this target to 70 per cent," he said.
The official added that there many small and marginal farmers, who were otherwise left out of the insurance net, will now be able to avail the insurance cover after paying the premium sums, which have been brought down considerably.
Speaking to reporters after the state level pre-Kharif crop sowing season review meeting here, Minister for Agriculture Eknath Khadse said that as per the monsoon forecast issued by the India Meteorological Department (IMD) this year the monsoon is likely to hit Mumbai by June 10 and shall cover the rest of the state by June 20.
Moreover, the IMD has forecast advancement of monsoon and shall be more than the normal average.
Khadse said that considering the early onset of monsoon this year the farmers will have to decide on crop sowing for the Kharif crop between May 15 to May 21.
Khadse said that the government expects the area under Kharif crop season to be at 150 lakh hectares.
Assuring that the government has made adequate arrangements for supply of seeds and fertilisers in the state, he said that this year the government intends to sell white urea, which will be coated with neem oil.
"This will help retention of nitrogen need for the crops to grow. The government had come across cases of misuse of white urea by chemical and pharmaceutical companies," he said.
In view of the opposition to sugarcane crop due to drought, NCP chief Sharad Pawar had recently said the crop is not cultivated by any big industrialists but by farmers only.
When asked to comment on Pawar's remarks, Khadse said during the sugarcane crushing season last year, all the sugar mills in Beed, Latur and Osmanabad districts crushed 17 lakh metric tonnes of sugarcane, utilising all the water in the dams.
"The same politicians then began questioning the government about its water management policy," the minister said, adding that the government shall now ensure that sugarcane and BT Cotton crops are cultivated using drip irrigation techniques.
According to government's own estimates, the yield of crops like pulses, cereals and sugarcane is expected to range between 5 per cent and 21 per cent for the Kharif season, although the cotton yield is expected to rise by 11 per cent.