Weak rainfall, Punjab farmers need to spend Rs 500 cr more

With several states facing ‘deficient’ rain, Punjab has estimated farmers’ expenditure on crop sowing to go up by Rs 500 to Rs 700 crore on account of higher spending on diesel for irrigation in the ongoing Kharif season.

“There will be an additional burden of Rs 500 crore to 700 crore on farmers for crop sowing in current Kharif season because of rising spending on diesel to irrigate crops especially paddy which requires water for growth,” Punjab agriculture director M S Sandhu said here on Friday.

Though Haryana has still not made an assessment on increase in farmers’ expenditure yet, it is of the view that additional expenditure, including on power purchase for agriculture sector, could go up over Rs 400 crore if rain continues to remain ‘weak’.

However, both states have demanded additional power supply from the Centre for the agriculture sector so that farmers could complete sowing Kharif crops, including paddy, fodder and even vegetables and fruits.

It has been estimated that farmers had to spend an extra sum of Rs 1,500 to Rs 2,000 per hectare on paddy crop for irrigation particularly in the wake of poor rain and severe power shortage in both states.

In Punjab alone, diesel sale during June when paddy sowing season begins, shot up by 18 per cent to 2.98 lakh kilo litres. Rains are deficient in Punjab and Haryana by 70 per cent from June 1 till July 19, as per Met office department. Moreover, both states have not witnessed widespread rain with various districts facing dry weather conditions.

Expressing concern over ‘weak’ rain, Haryana agriculture secretary Roshan Lal said, “As the power has gone costly, the additional expenditure on farming in case of weak rain could be more than Rs 400 crore.”

The Centre, in 2010, had given Rs 800 crore to Punjab and Rs 400 crore to Haryana as drought relief package for Kharif season of 2009. However, Lal said, “the assessment of additional expenditure by farmers has not been made yet.”

Notably, representatives from Punjab, Haryana, Karnataka, Maharashtra and Gujarat are expected to participate in a meeting called by the Centre on Saturday on contingency plan in the wake of deficient rain.

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