The ambitious crop diversification programme of Punjab,which is otherwise dominated by cultivation of only wheat and paddy,seems to be taking baby steps towards ensuring its target of decreasing cultivable area under water guzzling crops.
Under the diversification policy,though the state has proposed to bring 2.6 lakh hectares area under sugarcane cultivation which concluded recently this year,it has managed to increase 14,000 hectares under the crop. With this,area under sugarcane has reached 95,000 hectares against 81,000 hectares last year.
According to the instructions of Central Ground Water Board,Punjab is required to decrease at least 10 lakh hectares under paddy by increasing cultivable area for maize,sugarcane,pulses,oil seeds and fruits among others.
When contacted,Punjab Cane Commissioner Dr Ranjit Singh said: This year,the state has witnessed nearly 15 per cent increase in cane cultivation when compared to last year. Over 95,000 hectares area has been brought under cane.
The government has proposed 2.6 lakh hectares under cane cultivation. This jump will be made gradually. We have been encouraging farmers to go for cane cultivation,as it can give them better prices when compared to wheat and paddy crops. With cane,farmers can also go for inter-cropping by sowing pulses,menthan and vegetables to increase their income, he added.
For pulses as well,the state has proposed to bring 1.2 lakh hectares under cultivable land. This year,the agriculture department has a target to bring around 12,000 hectares under moong dal cultivation.