Punjab, Haryana register record paddy production

Scanty rains forced farmers to opt for diesel pumps

Punjab and Haryana have produced a record bumper paddy crop this season amid serious apprehensions of losing out on hugely deficit rainfall during the monsoon.

As procurement draws to a close, Punjab and Haryana have procured over 176 lakh tonnes of paddy, breaking all previous records by a sizeable margin.

However, all this has come at a cost, not just on the ecology, but also in terms of reduced margins for farmers amidst shortage of proper warehouses to stock crop arrivals.

Owing to an estimated 42 per cent deficit rainfall in Punjab, which recovered towards the fag end of the season, farmers in the state spent huge amounts on diesel to run tube-wells for irrigation.

Long dry spells in Punjab and Haryana, like in the rest of the country, during the transplanting season in June-end and July, appeared to threaten prospects of a decent harvest.

Interestingly, despite experts and panels consistently advocating a shift in the traditional wheat-rice crop pattern, the area under paddy produce in Punjab went up this time. They say the alarmingly low groundwater levels in Punjab has further receded due to over exploitation.

Storage problem

Storage of paddy remains a perennial problem in the state with huge stocks lying unsecured in the open on plinths for want of adequate storage space.

Punjab alone has procured nearly 127 lakh tonnes of paddy till Thursday, up 14 lakh tonnes since last year, and the figure is expected to further swell.

The SAD-BJP government in Punjab has been pressing upon the Centre to announce an adequate compensation package for farmers in wake of the high input cost incurred to ensure a bumper crop for the nation.

The government has fixed the minimum support price (MSP) at Rs 1,250 per quintal for common varieties of paddy. The MSP for grade-A varieties of paddy has been kept slightly higher.

In neighbouring Haryana, the paddy arrival was up nearly 20 per cent since last year due to arrival of A-grade variety compared to basmati, officials said.

The recent release of an image of a burning field in Punjab by NASA has once again brought to fore the need for a strong legislation to curb the “rampant” practice.
After harvest, farmers invariably put paddy residues to flame since the leftover paddy straw incurs additional labour to be removed for the next crop.

The practice has not only been killing micro flora and fauna that is beneficial to the soil but also depletes the organic matter and damages the environment. The smoke gravely effects humans as well.

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