Complexity in Agricultural Pattern in Punjab

 

Context:

• As per the initial field report of the Punjab Agriculture department, around 35,000 hectares (86,450 acres) are being used for the cultivation of spring/summer maize.

 

Background:

• In a state like Punjab any alternative to paddy and wheat is welcome because the water intensive crops have had devastating effects on the environment.
• But there are certain apprehensions to sowing maize in the spring season.

 

When is maize grown?

• Before paddy sowing, which starts by mid-June and ends by early July, the fields of potato growers remain empty. During this time, from February to mid-June, farmers prefer to grow one more crop before paddy.
• Therefore, spring maize is a good option as it is a 120-122 days’ crop and it is also harvested by June.
• During spring, maize of hybrid quality is grown the yield of which is very high.

 

Why there are apprehensions?

 

• During the period from March to June, the temperatures are very high in Punjab and there are long hours of sunshine.
• Due to high temperature, the water gets evaporated soon and frequent watering of the maize crop is needed in peak summer season. This affects the water table drastically
• This crop is ‘big no’ without ‘drip irrigation’ for Punjab where the groundwater table is depleting drastically and there is a need for sustainable farming.

 

What is the alternative?

• Summer moong and sunflower crops are the best alternatives.
• Summer moong is a 70-day crop and sunflower is a 100-day crop. While summer moong needs only 3-4 irrigations, sunflower also takes 25-30% less water than summer maize.
• Both the crops are extremely vital in the country as India imports 2.5 million tonnes sunflower oil every year and also 2-3 million tonnes of pulses.

 

Source: THE HINDU.

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