Agriculture department proposes Punjab government to delay paddy transplantation till June 20
The agriculture department suggested the Punjab government that the paddy transplantation be aligned with the monsoons to save depleting subsoil water
: The agriculture department has proposed the Punjab government to postpone paddy transplantation in the upcoming kharif season to June 20 to align it with the monsoons and save depleting subsoil water by desisting planting of the crop in peak summer months.
“We have recommended June 20 for start of paddy transplantation and have explained the government the purpose and reasons for postponement. Our aim is to save subsoil water which is depleting at fast pace owing to water guzzler varieties sown before onset of the monsoons,” said secretary, agriculture, Dilraj Singh.
According to the experts and Punjab agricultural university (PAU), postponement of transplantation saves 30% of the total water usage and huge amount of power required to run 14 lakh agri-tubewells to dig out subsoil water for puddling the fields ahead of the transplantation.
“Best time is to align transplantation with the monsoons that hits Punjab in the first week of July, and with this we can save one-third of total water used to grow paddy by desisting from transplanting of paddy in peak summer months of May and June,” said an officer of the state agriculture department.
Before the start of kharif sowing, the state government notifies the date for start of paddy transplantation as per the provisions of the Punjab preservation of subsoil water act 2009.
It was in 2006, when the state government started efforts for postponing paddy transplantation, which started from Amritsar district in 2007 after which a notification was issued in 2008 and the next year a law was passed.
From 2008, despite opposition by leaders of the farm bodies, paddy sowing was postponed to June 10 and from 2014 it was further extended to June 15, in 2018 it was June 20.
However, in 2019, the then CM Capt. Amarinder Singh preponed it by a week to June 13. For the next two kharif seasons (2020 and 2021), the sowing schedule remained unchanged.
With the Aam Aadmi party (AAP) taking over the reins in the state, the agriculture department wants to make a timely move.
It needs mention that the state agriculture department also wants the farmers to desist from sowing long duration varieties (165 days including setting up a nursery) such as PUSA 44.
“Such varieties guzzle more water, has larger crop residue, take about five months to mature and because on harvest, it gives shorter window for wheat sowing, the farmers prefer to burn the straw causing an environmental hazard,” said an officer in the agriculture department.
As per the figures from the commission for agricultural costs and prices (CACP), a kilogram of paddy consumes 3,367 liters of water. From a kilogram of paddy, 660 grams of rice is produced.
According to a state department officer, short duration varieties are available for the farmers to make a choice. Paddy is sown over an area of 30 lakh hectares which also includes premium quality aromatic variety basmati, area under which varies from 3-5 lakh hectares.
The official said that though these varieties give marginally higher yield but it should not pose environmental hazard. Out of 138 revenue blocks in the state, 109 are in the category of over-exploited, two are critical and five are in the category of semi-critical, where recharging is slower than the usage leading to an average of water by at least 100 centimeters.