Farmers reduce area under paddy cultivation in Jalandhar, experts say it may help improve groundwater levels
Farmers say since migrant labour was unavailable in the wake of Covid-19 and local labour was expensive they decided to reduce area under cultivationUpdated: Jul 04, 2020 17:39 IST
There has been a fall in the area under paddy cultivation in Jalandhar due to the non-availability of labour amid the Covid-19 pandemic. Experts say the development may help improve the area’s groundwater levels.
Farmers have transplanted paddy over 1.4 lakh hectares since June 10. Around 20-20,000 hectares will be used to grow basmati rice that needs less water, said chief agriculture officer Surinder Singh. In 2019, paddy was transplanted over 1.74 lakh hectares.
Taking account of labour shortage, the Punjab government had allowed the farmers to start the paddy season from June 10. Transplantation of paddy generally begins on June 20 and lasts over 20 days.
District agriculture development officer Naresh Gulati said, “As labour was expensive this season, some farmers transplanted paddy over a smaller area.”
In Jalandhar, paddy was sown over 1.73 lakh hectares in 2018 and over 1.72 lakh hectares in 2017.
A reduction in the area covered under paddy will help to improve the groundwater level as all ten blocks of Jalandhar have been overexploited, say officials.
“The government had also directed the agriculture departments to reduce at least 3 lakh hectares from 29.3 lakh hectares, the total area under paddy cultivation in 2019 across the state, by promoting basmati and maize crop to check the depleting groundwater level,” a senior agriculture officer said.
According to the Punjab Central Ground Water Board’s 2019 report, Punjab tops the country in over-exploitation of groundwater at 79% and Jalandhar is among the four worst-affected districts in the state.
‘REDUCED CULTIVATION BY HALF’
A farmer, Jagjit Shergill of Hoshiarpur’s Bajwara village, says that as there was no migrant labourers and local labour was expensive, he transplanted paddy over 10 acres of his land against last year’s 20 acres.
Gulati said around 2,500 to 5,500 litre of water is needed to produce a kg of rice and for one hectare of paddy field 50-60 lakh litre is required, depending on the soil quality.