Punjab sees record 77% surge in moong cultivation
Going by the moong cultivation this season, Punjab is expecting to produce about 4 lakh quintals of the pulse with an average yield of 4-5 quintals per acre
: Buoyed by chief Minister Bhagwant Mann’s recent announcement of MSP for green gram and early wheat harvest, farmers in Punjab are taking up summer moong cultivation, with the state witnessing a record 77% jump in its sowing acreage, highest in the last five years.
Agriculture director Gurvinder Singh said that as per the data compiled till May 9, a total of 38,900 hectares or about 97,000 acres is under moong cultivation across Punjab this season. It was 22,000 hectares (55,000 acres) in the last rabi zaid (third crop sown between rabi and kharif seasons).
“It is for the first time in recent years that farmers showed interest in the high-value cash crop. The state government is chalking out various marketing options to make moong cultivation a sustainable crop,” he added.
Agriculture experts attribute the sharp jump in the pulse cultivation to early harvesting of wheat and the chief minister’s announcement of a minimum support price (MSP) for moong and assurance to farmers that the Punjab government would lift the crop if they cultivate it.
The lucrative promise comes with a precondition that the farmers will have to take up either PR-126 variety of paddy crop or Basmati cultivation after moong harvest.
The Centre has fixed MSP for moong at ₹7,275 per quintal.
Farmers, who have been cultivating summer moong traditionally, said sowing the pulse after wheat harvesting is a challenging proposition as the maturity period of the 60-day crop may coincide with monsoons.
Going by the sowing trend this season, Punjab is expecting to produce about 4 lakh quintals of the pulse with an average yield of 4-5 quintals per acre.
According to official data, Mansa topped the chart with 10,000 hectares of moong cultivation, followed by Moga (5,000 hectares) and Ludhiana (4,000 hectares).
Gurpreet Singh, agriculture development officer of Phul block in Bathinda, a traditional moong-sowing belt, said the Punjab Agriculture University (PAU) experts recommend harvesting moong after 60-65 days (thus derives a common name of saathi that matures in 60-days) but farmers generally harvest the crop after 75 days.
Hardeep Singh from Ralla village in Mansa has for the first time sowed moong on his 10-acre farm.
“Due to early harvesting of wheat this year, I decided to switch over to cultivate this short duration pulse in the wheat-rice cycle. If the yield is good and I earn well, I will diversify more land from next season,” he said.
Kartar Singh of Bhana village in Faridkot said the state government’s assurance to buy moong pulse on MSP has motivated farmers to bring more area under its cultivation.
“For the first time, I experimented with sowing pulses on two acres. Farmers have high hopes to earn extra between the wheat-paddy cycle when farms remain vacant for over two months. Picture will be clear after crop reaches mandi for sale,” he added.
Sukhdev Singh of Raiya village in Bathinda, who has been cultivating moong since 1995, said the per-acre cost is up to ₹ 8,000 with a significant cost input on pesticides as the crop is susceptible to pest attacks.
“I have been getting 4-8 quintals from an acre after moong is sown after potato harvesting in March. I get to bear land lease payments but I never got payment as per MSP. It is a good idea if the state assures to buy the entire stock on MSP. But if it is sown after the last week of April, rain can potentially lead to flattening of plants and discoloration of pods during harvesting around first week of July,” Sukhdev said.
Guriqbal Singh, an expert on agronomy of grain legumes at PAU, said cultivating moong after wheat is a challenging task due to limited time for sowing and harvesting before the rainy season.
“Pulse cultivation fits the best after potato harvesting and PAU recommends that moong sowing should be done between March 15-April 20. If sown late, the mature crop is likely to be hit severely by rains in late June or early July,” he said.