Chandigarh: The area under paddy cultivation has been reduced considerably in Punjab, with nearly 7.5 lakh acres shifted from paddy to alternate crops during this kharif (summer) season, the government said on Sunday.
The area under non-basmati paddy during this season was 57.27 lakh acres compared to 64.80 lakh acres in the previous kharif season.
Lauding the efforts of the Agriculture Department, Chief Minister Amarinder Singh said this initiative would go a long way in conserving water as paddy is a water guzzling crop.
The Chief Minister said the government aimed to shift seven lakh acres more area from paddy to cotton, maize, basmati, fruits and vegetables to restore the water balance.
Additional Chief Secretary (Development) Viswajit Khanna said in addition to crop diversification, the department had launched a campaign to motivate farmers to reduce the use of agrochemicals, especially nine agrochemicals that have negative impact on basmati grain quality.
This has brought encouraging results as the chemical residue level in the basmati crop is found to be below the minimum residue level.
Following this initiative, the state farmers has produced high quality basmati crop and got remunerative prices of their produce in spite of weak international sentiment owing to restrictions on export to Iran, a major market for Punjab basmati, he said.
To ensure judicious use of fertilisers, 24.30 lakh soil health cards have been issued after testing soil health and the farmers have been asked to apply need based fertilizers, said Secretary Agriculture K.S. Pannu.
Pointing to the drastic reduction in consumption of urea and diammonium phosphate (DAP), Pannu said the consumption of urea was 13.75 lakh tonne in this kharif season compared to 14.57 lakh tonne in 2018, thereby saving Rs 49.20 crore of the farmers.
Similarly, the consumption of DAP has decrease to 1.42 lakh tonne this kharif season as compared to 1.75 lakh tonne in 2018, saving nearly Rs 82.50 crore of farmers during the current season.