By admin       2018-06-15

With the cotton sowing season coming to an end, area under the crop in Punjab has been recorded at 2.84 lakh hectares, which is 1.16 lakh hectares (29%) lower than the targeted area of 4 lakh hectares. Last year cotton was sown over 3.82 lakh hectares. As per state agriculture department sources, farmers were likely to switch over to paddy and basmati. They have decided against growing other kharif (summer sown) crops like pulses, maize, guar (cluster beans) and vegetables. Problem of marketing of cash crops along with no fixed rate dissuades farmers from opting for these as they are likely to switch to water-guzzling paddy, which is procured by the state-run agencies at minimum support price (MSP) for giving it to the beneficiaries under the public distribution system and keep the remaining as buffer. Paddy is expected to be transplanted over 29 lakh hectares in the state this year. Kharif pulses like moong (green gram), urad (black gram) and tur/arhar (pigeon pea) in 2017 were cultivated over 73,000 hectares and kharif oilseeds like groundnut and sunflower over 32,000 hectares. The agriculture department hopes area under pulses and oilseeds to increase by more than double to 1,70,000 hectares and 70,000 hectares, respectively, but officials are not optimistic about it. Harnek Singh, a farmer from Sangat village Bathinda, said, “I had sown cotton in three acres last year but as the yield was not up to mark and rates too remained below the previous year levels. I decided to opt out of cotton and thought of growing pulses or maize. As there is assured price of these crops, paddy remains the best option.” Gurjant Singh of Jodhpur Romana village in Bathinda said, “We were hopeful to get big profits from cotton crop sown in five and a half acres, but it could not happen. Now we have decided to return to paddy. An agriculture department official had suggested me to sow guar or maize but as there is no marketing system of these cops, we preferred to go for paddy.” Punjab agriculture and farmer welfare department director J S Bains said, “The department has tried a lot to make the farmers switch to cash crops of maize, pulses, guar or even towards horticulture but they are showing no interest. Guar is expected to be sown in sizeable area in Mansa and Bathinda districts. The department wants that farmers should shift towards crops requiring less water but their response is bleak.” Paddy has been transplanted in over 1,000 acres in the last four days in Punjab, defying the directions of the state government to start it from June 20. Farmers are holding protests at 30 places across 13 districts of Punjab for release of eight-hour electricity for the tubewells. The agriculture department, however, has served notices to 30 farmers for violating the government directions and early planted crop on 55 acres has been ploughed. Problem of marketing of cash crops along with no fixed rate dissuades farmers from opting for kharif (summer sown) crops. As a result, farmers may switch to paddy, which is procured by the state-run agencies at minimum support price Paddy has been transplanted in over 1,000 acres in the last four days in Punjab, defying the directions of the state government to start it from June 20 Notices have been issued to 30 farmers for violating government directions.

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