Despite measures to promote crop diversification and rotation by the state government and agricultural experts, farmers stuck to traditional crops such as wheat and paddy this year as well. In fact, the area under crop diversification was recorded to be smaller than last year.
Farmers stayed away from new crop practices because such trials have failed in the past. Hence, the government’s efforts to promote new technology and encourage farmers to grow other crops such as maize, vegetables, sugarcane, and pulses did not bear fruit.
This is evident from figures. Compared to last year, paddy cultivation increased by a little over 4% this year. While last year 2,02,000 hectares in the district were under paddy, this year the number recorded was 2,10,470 hectares.
The area under cotton cultivation registered less than half of the area cultivated last year. It fell from 500 hectares to 211 hectares. The area under maize cultivation fell by 24% and that of basmati by 30% this year. However, there was no change in area under sugarcane cultivation.
Davinder Singh, a farmer from Munjal Kalan, said, “We have 27 acres of land. We have cultivated vegetables on six acres for eight years now. There are a number of problems in vegetable farming. We earn less, vendors and middlemen earn more. Sometimes, we fail to achieve an adequate yield. So for us paddy and wheat are more successful.”
Many said the government failed when it came to marketing and a reasonable minimum support price (MSP) of other crops. “Earlier, farmers grew sugarcane, potato, sunflower, and vegetables on a large scale. But when it came to marketing and good MSP, the government failed to satisfy them. I prefer potato and sunflower because these crops can be reared in the middle of the season. In our region, some MNCs are active and they purchase potato but they never make any promises to buy our crops. The whole area demands such facilities and there is no assurance of MSP from the government’s side,” said Charan Singh from Fatehpur village, who is cultivating paddy on 20 acres of land.
Jaspal Singh, another farmer from the same village, said, “I was cultivating sugarcane a few years back but not anymore. There were a number of problems regarding payment. Before promoting crop diversification, the government should assure farmers about appropriate marketing facilities and MSP of all crops.”
Chief agriculture officer Parminder Singh said, “The area has decreased this year because farmers demand assurance in marketing such crops. The government is providing subsidies on seeds along with other technical facilities but crop diversification demands adequate marketing.”