Committee formed to look at alternative crops to paddy

| | Chandigarh
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Committee formed to look at alternative crops to paddy

Friday, 31 March 2023 | PNS | Chandigarh

Punjab CM urges farmers to adopt cotton, basmati, moong; Assures to procure Basmati at MSP
Giving a clarion call to the farmers for a paradigm shift in agriculture by adopting alternative crops like cotton, basmati and moong, Punjab Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann on Thursday announced that the state’s procurement agency, Markfed, would procure Basmati rice at an assured price.
Mann, in a video message, also announced that a committee has been formed under the state Chief Secretary Vijay Kumar Janjua to look into alternatives to growing paddy, while describing crop diversification as the critical necessity for Punjab.
“The committee will prepare a report on the factors that deterred farmers from quitting paddy cultivation. After receiving the report, the Government would try to remove these obstacles so that the area under water-guzzler paddy could be diverted,” he said.
“Several crops were grown on the fertile land of state but gradually the farmers confined them to paddy only which has adversely affected the state’s topography in terms of excessive power consumption, depletion of water table as most the blocks had gone in extreme dark zone, pollution due burning of stubble and others,” said Mann, adding that to tackle this, the need of hour is to adopt alternative crops for which “a high level committee, headed by Chief Secretary, has also recommended the adoption of these crops”.
The Chief Minister said that due to this, the State Government is adopting it in a big way. He accorded guarantee to provide canal water for cotton crop from April 1 and announced 33 percent subsidy on cotton seeds certified by Punjab Agricultural University (PAU) besides to provide insurance on cotton crop and MSP on Basmati.
Expressing grave concern on various menaces posed by paddy, Mann said that the State Government’s firm belief to increase area under cotton cultivation will check the problem from its roots due to which they have decided to provide canal water from April 1 for cotton.
The Chief Minister said that Deputy Commissioners and Senior Superintendents of Police have been instructed to depute Police force for checking theft of water so that farmers at the tail end can be benefitted. “The farmers had also raised the issue of canal water theft by affluent people during first of its kind ‘Sarkar-Kisan Milni’ after which the State Government had decided to check it with heavy hand,” he said.
Speaking about other steps to promote crop diversification, the Chief Minister announced a 33 percent subsidy on cotton seeds certified by PAU Ludhiana thereby high yielding seeds will be available at cheaper rates for farmers.
“Preventive measures are also being taken to check the attack of white fly and pink worm,” he said while emphasizing that the State Government has decided to conduct comprehensive research on new insecticide and pesticides to control these problems.
Reiterating his commitment for safeguarding the farmers’ interests from all natural calamities, the Chief Minister also announced that the State Government is mulling to cover the cotton crop loss under an Insurance Scheme so that the farmers didn’t face any hardships regarding this.
Mann also announced to promote Basmati as the other crop of diversification and assured Minimum Support Price (MSP) on this crop. “Markfed will be the nodal agency to procure Basmati on MSP,” he added. “Encouraged by the demand for Basmati last year, the Government is encouraging farmers to sow Basmati this year also. But if the price is reduced considering the enhanced supply, Markfed would buy the produce at the assured price,” he said.
The Chief Minister said that laboratories are also being set up to inform farmers about the quantity of insecticides to be used on Basmati so that its crop meet the export standards of European countries pertaining to pest residues.
Recommending the cultivation of PR 126 and other similar varieties of paddy, Mann said that special emphasis is being given to promote PAU certified varieties and discourage the water guzzling varieties such as PUSA 44 which take ample time for harvesting.
Mann also said that MSP will be continued on Moong but the recent researches showed that the whitefly problem arises on moong crop and this problem have moved on cotton from moong so he suggested the farmers not to cultivate moong in Mansa, Bathinda, Sri Muktsar Sahib, Fazilka districts.
Meanwhile, Mann said that 2500 Kisan Mittars will be deputed along with 100 Agriculture experts of PAU to update farmers about these menaces.

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