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HindustanTimes Sat,23 Aug 2014

Centre sanctions Punjab's third maize dryer plant for Jalandhar

Jatinder Kohli, Hindustan Times  Jalandhar, May 18, 2014
First Published: 20:46 IST(18/5/2014) | Last Updated: 20:48 IST(18/5/2014)

With a view to increasing cultivation of maize crop in Doaba region, the central government has sanctioned the third maize dryer plant in the state in Bhogpur block of the district.

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Interestingly, both the plants are in Nawanshahr and Hoshiarpur districts of the region. In Jalandhar, the dryer plant will be developed at the Bhogpur grain market and the government has approved Rs. 8 crore for the project. The Mandi Board will select suitable site at the Bhogpur grain market very soon so that its construction could be started after completing the procedural formalities.

Confirming the development, chief agriculture officer Swatantra Kumar Aeri said, "I have received a written communication from the central government. The construction of plant will be started very soon."

He said the aim behind developing the dryer plant was to promote the cultivation of maize crop to increase the groundwater level in the state. 
"Maize farmers are not getting good prices of their crop due to wet grain. Once the maize dryer is developed, they will get the maximum crop price after drying it in the plant," he added. 

According to sources, the agriculture department has set a target to cover 18,000 hectare area under maize crop in Adampur, Bhogpur, Goraya, Jalandhar East, Jalandhar West, Lohian, Nakodar, Nurmahal, Phillaur and Shahkot blocks.

In 2013, the area under maize crop was around 11,700 hectares while the same was 8000 hectares in 2012.

After the ministry of water resources declared all the 10 blocks as "dark zone" due to depleting groundwater level, it has become imperative for the agriculture department to reduce area under paddy crop, apparently responsible for the alarming situation.

Moreover, the agriculture department is continuing to persuade farmers to opt maize crop which has resulted in decrease in area under paddy cultivation.

In 2012, paddy crop was sown in 1.46 lakh hectares which came down to 1.38 lakh in 2013 while the area under maize cultivation will be 1.31 lakh hectares in 2014.

Chief minister Parkash Singh Badal had inaugurated the first-of-its-kind maize dryer in the country at Salia Khurd village of Hoshiarpur on October 9 last year at cost of Rs. 9 crore. The second maize drying plant was inaugurated by deputy chief minister Sukhbir Singh Badal in February this in Nawanshahr district.
 
Promoting maize cultivation
The ministry of water resources had declared Adampur, Bhogpur, Goraya, Jalandhar East, Jalandhar West, Lohian, Nakodar, Nurmahal, Phillaur and Shahkot blocks as "dark zone" due to depleting groundwater level.

The agriculture department has set a target to cover 18,000 hectare area under maize crop in these blocks and reduce area under paddy crop, apparently responsible for the alarming situation.

In 2013, the area under maize crop was around 11,700 hectares while the same was 8000 hectares in 2012.

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