The area under mustard cultivation in Punjab has increased to 54,000 hectares from 33,000 hectares, up by 64 per cent. Still, it is lower than what the State used to have, at around 1.70 lakh hectares, until 1988. This is despite the fact that if Punjab farmers sell mustard at the market rate, they will earn 28 per cent more profit than growing wheat!

Taking the average mandi price of mustard ₹7,500/quintal in October 2021, farmers should have gone for mustard as the net profit from one hectare will be ₹80,865, based on the average yield of 1.5 tonnes/hectare and cost of production of ₹2,109/quintal (A2+FL). However, they prefer to stick to wheat that guarantees a profit of ₹63,350 from one hectare considering 5 tonnes/ha yield and cost of production₹748/quintal, as per Commission for Agricultural Costs and Prices (CACP) data.

“There is no risk in wheat as farmers know they will be able to sell the crop at MSP,” said Balwinder Singh Sidhu, Punjab’s Agriculture Commissioner. If the net profit is calculated on basis of MSP, the realisation from mustard will be lower at ₹44,115 from one hectare.

“We have seen in the past that when everyone goes for a particular crop, its prices tend to fall and mustard is no exception. There is no assured price for mustard,” said Pal Singh, a farmer in Barnala district who has planted wheat on six acres and potato on another three acres. If the return from mustard is made at least the same as from wheat, farmers like him will like to diversify, Singh said.