Farmers’ decision to go for paddy variety PUSA 44 this year, contrary to the advisory of agricultural experts, has led to delayed sowing of wheat across Punjab.
Farmers opted for PUSA 44, which takes 160 days to mature, instead of the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR)-recommended varieties PR 121, 122, 123 and 124, which take 140-145 days to mature.
PUSA 44 was preferred by them due to its higher yield (about 35 quintals per acre) compared to other varieties, where it varies between 30 and 32 quintals. About half of the farmers across the state sowed this variety.
Farmers were keen on starting the sowing of paddy from June 1, but the state government, keeping in mind the power demand in the peak summer season, fixed June 15 as the date.
A group of marginal farmers from Narangwal and Swaddi villages in Ludhiana district and Phillaur in Jalandhar district expressed concern over the late sowing of wheat. “We are yet to start sowing wheat. As a result, we will lose yield and suffer financial losses. The government should guide marginal farmers to make the right choice,” said Harvinder Singh, a marginal farmer from Narangwal.
Referring to the communication gap between the state agricultural department and farmers, PAU kisan club president Pavitar Pal Singh Pangli said, “A large number of farmers in Punjab are uneducated and require a helping hand, but district agricultural officers and their staff are overworked. Hence, they are unable to reach out to farmers. Krishi vigyan kendras (KVKs) and the directorate of extension education, PAU, have also failed to prevent farmers from taking wrong decisions.”
Pangi added that a farmer sowing wheat after November 15 lost yield of 150 kg per week.
What’s worse, Punjab does not have any participant on DD Kisan channel launched by the Union government in March. This Rs 100-crore project, exclusively for the agricultural community, features agricultural experts, progressive farmers, and scientists from various universities sharing a platform to discuss and disseminate information on agriculture-related issues.
When contacted, director, agriculture, Punjab, Gurdial Singh said, “As in previous years, a large number of farmers have already sown wheat and the others will do so in the coming days. As far as participation on DD Kisan is concerned, nobody from the Centre has approached us. Moreover, it is important for us to focus on agricultural programmes for the state.”