Punjab stares at deficient paddy, PAU suggests direct seeding
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After celebrating a record wheat production, Punjab is lagging behind in paddy cultivation. According to the Department of Agriculture, the deficit is 33 per cent as of now — almost two lakh hectares less than last year.
With a delayed monsoon staring at them, coupled with the fact that the state is facing a huge power crisis too, the farmers are forced to pump out groundwater using diesel power generator sets. Punjab, which topped the country in wheat production, now stares at a possibility of low paddy yield and high cultivation costs. The state has set a target of 27.8 lakh hectares of paddy, including both basmati and non-basmati varieties.
"We are sowing PR 118, which takes a long time to mature. And in case we delay its sowing, we will have to face a lot of problems at the time of harvesting. However, with no rains in sight, we are left with no option but to stall the process of transplanting paddy. We need water to sustain transplanted paddy. I cannot sustain so much crop on water pumped by tube wells," says Dara Singh, a farmer in Faridkot.
Another farmer Jaswinder Singh points out: "Each paddy season, the state government promises that we will get regular power. But the ground reality is very different. We have some eight hours of power cuts each day and moreover we do not know when power will come."
"The labourers whom we brought after great efforts are now sitting idle. We cannot transplant paddy till it rains," adds Kamaljit Singh, a farmer from Ludhiana.
Agriculture Director Dr Mangal Singh, however, is still optimistic. "Paddy can survive worst of conditions. No doubt we have reports where fields have cracked up due to extreme heat and no water. But we always advise the farmers to transplant paddy in phases so that maintaining crops is easier," he says.
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