Agri Business

Punjab, Haryana farmers diversify a tad from rice

TV Jayan New Delhi | Updated on July 29, 2019 Published on July 29, 2019

Better prices commanded by crops like cotton and maize last year and crop diversification strategies adopted by Punjab and Haryana governments have prompted farmers in the two States to plant less rice this season as compared to previous kharif season.

While the area under rice in Haryana till last week was a little over 10 lakh hectares (lh), nearly 15 per cent lower than 11.87 lh planted in kharif 2018-19. In Punjab too, nearly a little over 1 lh normally used for growing rice has been diverted to plant cotton and maize. With rice sowing being almost at the fag end as far as the season is concerned, not much change is expected in the cropping pattern now.

Haryana State agriculture authorities attribute the reduction in rice cultivation to the sustained campaign they ran. “Farmers with at least 50,000 hectares have enrolled as part of the campaign to grow maize or pulses. We have given them a cash benefit of ₹ 4,500 per hectare, free seeds and free crop insurance cover under the Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana (PMFBY), said Suresh Gahlawat, Assistant Director (Extension) at Haryana Agriculture Department.

“Besides, they have a standing offer of buying back the maize crop at minimum support price decided by the Centre,” he said. Apart from maize, cotton sowing is also marginally up in Haryana to 6.76 lh as against 6.65 lh same period last year. However, many farmers in the State alleged that more farmers would have availed the scheme had the State government revealed its plans earlier on. “We are all concerned about the depleting groundwater levels in the State. If the State was really concerned about it why did they announce it at the eleventh hour,” asked Rattan Mann, Bharatiya Kisan Union State President. It should have taken the farmers into confidence in advance, say, February or March, he felt.

According to Sutanta Kumar Airi, Director of Agriculture in Punjab, the State to ran a campaign to lure farmers away from planting rice and this had some success. Punjab farmers planted rice only on 28.53 lh till last week as compared to 29.57 lh in the corresponding week last year. On other hand, the area under maize cultivation has gone up to 1.6 lh as against a little over 1 lh same period last year, said Airi. The State also witnessed a spurt in cotton cultivation, mainly because the cash crop fetched good price in the previous year. The area under cotton planted has crossed 4 lh last week as against 2.84 lh in same week in 2018-19.

“Even in rice, we are encouraging farmers to grow more basmati rice this time than non-basmati varieties to improve export prospects, said the Punjab government official.

There are other few States which too witnessed a reduction in rice planting. Among the States that have reported less area under rice as compared to last season are Andhra Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, madhya Pradesh, Telangana, and West Bengal. The reduction mainly on account of monsoon rainfall deficit and most of them have sufficient time to make up for the lost time with the transplanting has covered less than half the area normally covered.

Published on July 29, 2019
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