With Punjab laying thrust oncrop diversification, the state has proposed to cut down area under water guzzling paddy crop by 2 lakh hectares to 26.50 lakh hectares for the kharif season 2014-15.
Paddy sowing will start from June 15 in the state.
"We have planned to bring down area under paddy to 26.50 lakh hectares in coming sowing season as against 28.51 lakh hectares of area in last season," an official of Punjab Agriculture department said here today.
With state encouraging rice growers to opt for basmati variety of crop to fetch higher returns, the state is expecting 23 per cent of total acreage under paddy be brought under aromatic variety crop.
About 6.10 lakh hectares of area would be brought under basmati variety of crop this year, up by 50,000 hectares of area brought in last year, he said.
However, last season the state agriculture department had proposed 27.50 lakh hectares of area under paddy but actual area under this crop surpassed the targeted area to 28.51 lakh hectares.
Gradual reduction in cultivable area under paddy is part of Punjab government's ambitious plan to shift area under paddy to other crops in the wake of fast depletion of under ground water table.
The Punjab government had proposed to reduce paddy area by 12 lakh hectares in next five years to maize (4 lakh hectares), cotton (2 lakh hectares), basmati (2 lakh hectares), 1.7 lakh hectares (sugarcane) and 80,000 hectares under fruits and vegetables.
Punjab has this year planned to allow paddy transplantation from June 15 in order to arrest fall in underground water table.
Punjab government had passed the Punjab Preservation of Sub-Soil Water Act in 2009 under which for the first time the date of transplantation of paddy was fixed as June 10 to save water in the state.
Punjab is eyeing rice output of 106 lakh tonne, down from 112.67 LT achieved last season, he said.
Among other Kharif crops, the state-known as foodbowl of the country, is targeting 2 lakh hectares of acreage under maize crop, up from 1.30 lakh hectares last year with projected output of 7.80 lakh tonne.
Cotton is projected to be sown over 5.30 lakh hectares, up from 4.46 lakh hectares last year, while sugarcane area would be 1.10 lakh hectares as against 89,000 hectares last year.