With a view to saving water resources and get more yield of paddy, farmers should adopt techniques like direct seeding rice, laser leveler and system of rice intensification (SRI), said financial commissioner (development) Suresh Kumar said here on Saturday.
"With the changing climatic conditions, water from rainfall is becoming more unreliable. It is in such a situation that the agricultural sector will have to feed more people and have very little water to spare as there is also pressure from increasing water demand from other sectors.
In order to get more crop per drop of water, there is need to adopt such techniques by which farmers can increase their rice production by using less underground water for irrigation and other resources," he said while inspecting the field trials to evaluate the different methods of rice cultivation in the context of climate change Thanewal at village of Gurdaspur block conducted by the department of agriculture.
He said that direct seeding rice and SRI were two methods of rice cultivation by which we could save natural resource. The purpose of SRI was to enable small and marginal farmers with limited resources to increase their production and income without relying on external sources, he added.
"So if we look at the question of water today, it becomes extremely important to look at the benefits that SRI gives us", Kumar said while adding that this year's troubled monsoon has been a cause for concern for farmers.
He said that in the context of climate change, the SRI plants had shown greater adaptability to both droughts and floods."So why is it that this potential is not being harnessed?" Kumar said.
He said that due to increasing demand for water for non-agricultural purposes and uncertainty and reduction of water supply, declining supply of underground water would be a major problem in the years ahead.
He said that Punjab had already exhausted its upper layer of groundwater, and farmers were now using high-powered pumps to reach supplies lower in the soil horizon. He directed the agriculture officials to celebrate field day near the field so that maximum number of farmers could be motivated.
Dr Lakhwinder Singh Hundal, chief agriculture officer, said that SRI had been validated in Gurdaspur by the department of agriculture during last nine year which showed that 20-25% yield of paddy per hactare could be increased while using 75% less seed, 20-30% underground water for irrigation, no use of weedicide, minimum use of pesticide and fungicide.
He said that SRI was an agro-ecological method for increasing the productivity of rice by changing the way that the plants, soil and water were managed.
He said that based on the performance of yield under SRI, it appeared that there was great potential for increasing the yield of rice because there were no requirements to purchase new seeds or agro-inputs.
He said that SRI had better prospects for adoption by resource-poor farmers and more particularly by the small and marginal farmers of the country who had limited scope of land expansion could increase their yield per unit and per day of labor by adopting SRI. "This technology will be very helpful for increasing social and economic status of large numbers of the farming community", he said.