Paddy transplantation begins; area under PUSA 44 to come down
With June 10 being the official date for the start of paddy transplantation, farmers on Monday hit the fields in almost all villages of the district. Both the local as well as migrant labourers have been engaged in the paddy transplantation work. Migrant workers are still arriving, which will alleviate the problem of labour shortage.punjab Updated: Jun 10, 2013 22:17 IST
With June 10 being the official date for the start of paddy transplantation, farmers on Monday hit the fields in almost all villages of the district. Both the local as well as migrant labourers have been engaged in the paddy transplantation work. Migrant workers are still arriving, which will alleviate the problem of labour shortage.
This year the area under PUSA 44, the variety that consumes maximum water and was never recommended by Punjab Agricultural University for cultivation in Punjab but was a favourite among farmers, would certainly come down. This is due to the latest varieties of PR 122 and PR 121 released by PAU, 10 years after it released PR 118 in 2003.
Though another variety released by the farm varsity -- PAU 201 -- became immensely popular among farmers immediately after its release, it had to be withdrawn due to some problems next year leaving farmers again with the old varieties.
PUSA 44 was popular among farmers due to its higher yield as compared to other varieties. But it took about three weeks more to mature than other varieties and also required more water. "Besides water, farmers also apply overdose of fertilisers, insecticides and pesticides, which degrade the environment," said Gurmeet Singh, a farmer from Kotkapura.
"The PUSA 44 variety alone covered about 30% area in the district last year," said Kaur Singh Dhillon, former chief agriculture officer, Faridkot, who is now district training officer. Besides, a considerable area was also under PR 118, which also takes long time to mature as compared to most other paddy varieties, he added.
"Farmers this year are mostly growing PR 122, the recently released variety, which seems to be taking place of PUSA 44 and the area under the latter is bound to decrease considerably due to the popularity of the latest variety," said Sukhwant Singh Sran, chief agriculture officer, Faridkot.
However, many farmers are also using other varieties such as PR 111 and PR 118, he said, adding that the choice of the farmers depends upon local factors.
"PUSA 44 has been ruling over the region for past many years but it should have been banned earlier by the government so as to check the depleting water table in the state. Farmers blindly continued with it for small grains at the cost of precious natural resources," said Chamkaur Singh, a farmer.
However, Faridkot district still does not seem to be ready to take up diversification.
Area under basmati may increase
"We expect the area under basmati to increase considerably this time as compared to last year. However, Faridkot district has not been included in the diversification plans by the government as far as maize is concerned. The government has planned to promote area under maize in 56 blocks, but Faridkot has not been included in it," said Sukhwant Singh, CAO, Faridkot.
Last year, the area under basmati came down against the expectations of the agriculture department. It was less than 3,000 hectares. Some farmers had to opt for basmati in the absence of rain as they found it difficult to get paddy transplanted on all fields due to scarcity of water. The basmati growers got encouraging rates and satisfactory yield last year.
It also remains to be seen that if farmers get regular water supply for 8 hours as promised.