The government of Punjab has decided to offer a subsidy of 4,000 per acre to motivate farmers to shift from the water-guzzling coarse rice variety (paddy) to the traditional cash crop cotton. In the crop diversification plan, the government has decided to initially support 1,500 acres in Abohar, Fazilka, Malout, Maur and Muktsar.
CM Parkash Singh Badal cleared the plan on Monday. The subsidy is for purchasing hybrid cotton seeds, an official said.
The plan is for the state agriculture department to get farmers to adopt high-density method of cotton cultivation.
“With the new method, 33,000 seedlings would now be sown per acre against the 10,000 seedlings sown traditionally,” an officer explained, adding that farmers were expected to get additional profit of 30-70% by shifting to the new method.
“It would shorten the maturing span by around a month, and the crop would be ready by November. That would also give sufficient time to sow wheat.”
The official further added that the new method would save labour cost for cotton-picking as the state government would also help in a mechanisation programme, which is being dealt with jointly by the Punjab Agricultural University (PAU) and the state department.
The government, along with private firms manufacturing farm implements, had conducted machine trials last year in which picking and cleaning of cotton was carried out over 50 acres in villages near Abohar.
BUMPER WHEAT YIELD AHEAD
The total yield of wheat in Punjab this year is expected to touch a new high of 168 lakh tonnes.
It was grown over 35 lakh hectares. “Due to the delayed cold spell, the crop benefitted,” said director, agriculture, Mangal Singh.
Last year, the yield touched 167 lakh tonnes. The crop is fetching a minimum price of 1,400 per quintal. State procurement agencies have procured a cash credit limit of 18,314 crore from the Reserve Bank of India, having set a target of 115 lakh tonnes.
State agencies are, however, lagging in procurement, which touched 96 lakh tonnes mark on April 4, while on the corresponding day last year it was at 106 lakh tonnes.