CAPT AMARINDER LAUDS AGRICULTURE DEPT FOR PROMOTING CROP DIVERSIFICATION
CHANDIGARH, DECEMBER 29: On the directives of Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh to promote crop diversification, the area under Paddy cultivation has been considerably reduced, with nearly 7.5 lakh acres shifted from paddy to alternate crops during the kharif season-2019.
Notably, the area under non-basmati paddy during current kharif season was 57.27 lac acres as compared to 64 .80 lac acres during Kharif-2018.
Lauding the efforts of the Agriculture Department, the Chief Minister, who also holds the Agriculture portfolio, said that this initiative would go a long way in conserving water as Paddy is a water guzzling crop.
The Chief Minister said the government aimed to shift 7 lac acres more area from Paddy to cotton, maize, basmati and fruits & Vegetables with a view to restoring the water balance in the state. He further said the Agriculture Department had already shifted 7.5 lac acres area from paddy to other crops this year. This includes about 3 lac acres under cotton, 1.27 lac acres under maize, 2.95 lac acres under basmati and 17500 acres under fruits & vegetables.
Highlighting the major initiatives undertaken by the Agriculture Department during the year 2019, Viswajit Khanna, Additional chief secretary (Development) said that, in addition to crop diversification, the department had also launched a vigorous campaign in Kharif-2019 to motivate farmers to reduce the use of agrochemicals, especially nine agrochemicals that have negative impact on Basmati grain quality. This had brought encouraging results as the chemical residue level in Basmati crop was found to be below minimum residue level (MRL), he said. Following this initiative, the state farmers had produced high quality basmati crop and got remunerative prices of their produce inspite of weak international sentiment owing to restrictions on export to Iran, which is a major market for Punjab basmati.
To ensure judicious use of fertilizers, 24.30 lac soil health cards have already been issued to the farmers after testing their soil health and the farmers were requested to apply need based fertilizers as per PAU recommendations, informed KS Pannu, Secretary Agriculture, Punjab.
Pointing to the drastic reduction in consumption of UREA and DAP, Pannu said that the consumption of UREA in Kharif-2019 was 13.75 lac tons as compared to 14.57 lac tons in 2018, thereby saving Rs. 49.20 crore of farmers on this count. Similarly, the consumption of Diammonium Phosphate (DAP) has also registered decrease of 33000 tons, which was 1.42 lac tons during kharif-2019 as compared to 1.75 lac tons in 2018, thus saving nearly Rs. 82.50 crore of farmers during current season.
Giving details of pesticides consumption during kharif-2019, the Secretary Agriculture said that the productivity of crops is crossing all previous records as a result of strict vigil on sale of spurious seeds and agro chemicals. Pannu further stated that the total usage of pesticides has registered a decline of 675 MT( technical grade) during the current Kharif season, thereby benefitting the farmers to the tune of Rs. 355 crore. The usage of pesticides was 3838 MT of pesticides worth Rs. 2000 crore during kharif-2018, said Pannu.