Punjab to develop machines for direct seeding of rice amid labour dearth
Agri varsity hands over prototype to 175 manufacturing units for mass production in stateUpdated: May 03, 2020 21:35 IST
Punjab Agricultural University (PAU), Ludhiana, in collaborate with the state agriculture department is making a machine for direct seeding of rice (DSR) for which 175 units manufacturing agricultural implements in the state have been roped in.
PAU has given a prototype to the manufacturers and the agriculture and industries departments are engaging Mandi Gobindgarh-based raw material suppliers for the task.
The varsity experts have advised farmers to opt for direct seeded rice variety of paddy in the upcoming kharif season to make up for the shortage of labour in the wake of Covid-19 pandemic. Around 70 lakh acres of land is expected to be under paddy cultivation in the state in the upcoming season.
The new variety, according to PAU researchers, would save the farmers from two labour-intensive steps of traditional paddy sowing — setting up of nurseries and then transplanting the saplings in the puddled fields. PAU’s new DSR technique was successfully tested during the last kharif season.
“The machine design is ready and we are tying up with the agricultural implements manufacturing units in Moga, Barnala, Sangrur, Patiala, Nabha and Ludhiana to produce these equipment on war footing,” agriculture secretary Kahan Singh Pannu told HT. He added that under the sub-mission on agricultural mechanisation (SMAM), there will be 40% subsidy on the new machines which cost ₹65,000 to ₹70,000.
Recommending PR126 as the direct seeded rice variety, PAU vice-chancellor B S Dhillon said, “In this new technique, the fields are levelled and irrigated to create good soil moisture conditions. Then, paddy is sown using these machines.”
The PR-126 variety has shown best results and the yield is as much as transplanted paddy, he added saying that the trials were conducted for the past three seasons.
“After harvesting and procurement of wheat, the next worry for Punjab farmers is paddy sowing. Amid the Covid-19 lockdown, labourers engaged in paddy transplantation have gone back to their native states. Now, Punjab farmers are left with no option but to adopt alternative sowing techniques,” Dhillon added.
“At least 500 Korean and Japanese machines are also available for direct sowing and as many additional machines will be developed in two months. These machines could sow paddy on 1.25 lakh acres of land. The government is offering 40% subsidy on them,” the VC said.
MODIFIED HAPPY SEEDERS, ZERO TILL DRILLS FOR SOWING
Pannu said there are 2 lakh machines in the state for sowing wheat such as happy seeders, zero till drills and other drill machines which could also be used for paddy sowing with minor alterations. “We have experimented on a few wheat sowing machines and it cost ₹1,000 to make them compatible for direct paddy sowing,” said Pannu.
FOOD DEPT TOLD TO TEST DSR VARIETY
Chief minister Capt Amarinder Singh has directed the food and civil supplies department to test the PR126 DSR variety so that it makes a good crop for procurement and lifting for the public distribution system in the country. Department joint director (procurement and storage) Anjuman Bhaskar said she would study the details of the said crop’s trials. “Any wheat or paddy crop sown on a large scale needs to be compatible for procurement as well,” she added.