To convince the Punjab farmers in diversifying from the wheat-rice cycle to oilseeds, the Solvent Extractors’ Association of India (SEA), under the SEA-Solidaridad Mustard Mission programme, supported by Ricela Foundation (a company producing rice bran oil from Dhuri in Punjab), organsied a farmers meet at Sangrur district in Punjab on August 6.
BV Mehta, Executive Director of SEA, said in a statement that the event was organised to start crop diversification from wheat to mustard in the ensuing rabi season in accordance with the overall objective of the Government to conserve water and to resolve excess pressure built on wheat infrastructure due to gap in demand and supply. It is necessary to divert some land in Punjab from wheat-rice cycle to soya and maize in kharif season, and to rapeseed in rabi season, it said.
The statement said the area under mustard crop is steadily increasing in Punjab. The area under mustard crop in Punjab, which was at 32,000 hectares in 2019-20, increased to 54,000 hectares in 2021-22.
It said the current area under mustard is not sufficient in that State. Around 35 lakh hectares have been earmarked for wheat cultivation in Punjab. If 50 per cent of the available land gets converted to mustard by 2025-26 (through better incentives for shifting), the additional available crop would be around 26 lakh tonnes of rape-mustard. This will translate into 10-11 lakh tonnes of additional edible oils, it said.
Speaking on the occasion, Jitendra Jorwal, Deputy Commissioner of Sangrur, said the progressive Punjab farmers shall diversify to crops like mustard instead of wheat. This will have double benefit of water conservation and more financial benefit for farmers. Farm registration process has started in Sangrur for mustard crop plantation, he said.
AR Sharma, Chairman of Ricela Group, Dhuri, said the “yellow revolution” of the mustard crop shall start from Sangrur and spread across Punjab.
Stating that India is spending ₹1.5-lakh crore of foreign currency to import edible oils, he said the country can save the forex with such projects. He said similar model farms, which have been developed by farmers in Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh with the help of SEA and Solidaridad, have been giving economic benefits to the farmers.
The statement said more than 200 farmers from Sangrur district, who were present at farmers’ meet, showed interest to join the ‘Mission Mustard’. Sharma assured the farmers that industry will buy their produce from model farms at MSP.
Suresh Motwani, General Manager (Oils), Solidaridad, presented to farmers the economic and other advantages of diversification from wheat to mustard.
DP Khandelia and Vijay Data, past presidents of SEA; BV Mehta, Executive Director of SEA; Ajay Jhunjhunwala, Secretary of SEA, ensured full support of their organisation to the farmers in getting the project implemented.