Paddy acreage has decreased in Punjab this Kharif season, what is the reason behind it

With the completion of sowing of paddy in the Kharif season, the total area under paddy in Punjab declined by about two per cent to 30.84 lakh hectares on an annual basis. Last year it was 31.41 lakh hectares. “The area under paddy cultivation in this season stood at 30.84 lakh hectares,” a senior official of the Punjab Agriculture Department said here. The area under Basmati paddy is estimated to be around 4.60 lakh hectares in this season, the official said. The state’s attempt at direct sowing of paddy (DSR) method has received little response.

Direct transplantation of paddy could be done in only 82,000 hectares under this method as against the target of 12 lakh hectares in Kharif sowing season. Despite the best efforts by the Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann government, the area under DSR technology remained much less than the target. Farmers have mainly blamed insufficient power to irrigate the fields for sowing paddy in May with the DSR method. In fact, in order to save water, since last year, the government of Punjab is encouraging direct seeding of paddy on a large scale. Paddy cultivation requires a lot of water whereas in Punjab the rain water is not sufficient for paddy cultivation. The groundwater level in the state is depleting rapidly due to excessive use of water in paddy transplantation.

Water requirement is less in DSR method

Under DSR technology, paddy seeds are planted in the field with the help of a machine, which simultaneously sows the rice and sprays the herbicide. According to the traditional method, farmers first grow the paddy plants in the nursery and then these plants are uprooted and planted in a low-lying field.

The DSR method requires very little water for irrigation. This improves percolation, reduces dependence on agricultural labor and improves soil health and increases the yield of both paddy and wheat by five to ten percent. It also helps in saving about 15-20 percent water as compared to the traditional puddle method. The state government had announced an amount of Rs 1,500 per acre to the farmers who opted for DSR technology.

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