May 1, 2022 4:20:05 am
In a move aimed at checking the depleting groundwater table, Punjab Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann Saturday announced a bonus of Rs 1500 per acre to those farmers who will take up direct sowing of rice (DSR).
Mann said the farmers can start sowing paddy through the DSR technique from May 20.
In a video message, Mann asked farmers to bring more agricultural land under DSR instead of the traditional paddy transplantation and said that the agriculture department would also extend requisite cooperation and support for the same.
Under the DSR technique, paddy seeds are drilled into the field with the help of a machine that also sprays herbicide simultaneously. In the traditional method, paddy saplings are raised in nurseries and then uprooted and transplanted in a puddled field. Expressing concern over the decreasing groundwater table, Mann underlined the need to save the precious resource. The traditional methods of paddy sowing lead to excessive consumption of water, Mann said adding that some districts have fallen into the red zone category. “This season not only you come forward for direct sowing of rice but also motivated your relatives and friends for this in the interest of Punjab. Joint efforts can save the decreasing water table and all of us should join hands for the cause,” he said. Referring to innovations by agri-scientists, the CM said that the DSR was beneficial for the environment as well as economically viable for farmers.
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Meanwhile, Sukhdev Singh Kokrikalan, general secretary of BKU Ugrahan, welcomed the initiative but said that the incentive is too low. “Our family had tried the DSR technique in the past but we found that the yield reduces by 15-20%. Hence to make up for the loss, the incentive announced should be more. Moreover, I feel that the government should give options of water intensive crops other than paddy and give MSP on them. We have sent a list of suggestions to the CM on this subject,” he said.
Echoing similar sentiments, Jagmohan Singh Dakaunda, general secretary of BKU Dakaunda, said that one should see that the incentive is less than MSP of one quintal of paddy crop. “In 2021-22, MSP of paddy was Rs 1940 per quintal. Yield of crop falls by 4-5 quintal per acre through DSR and hence they need to increase this incentive. Above all, they need to tell us as if they will provide us power supply from May 1 or not? If there is no power supply, what do we do with this technique?”
Harinder Singh Lakhowal, general secretary of BKU Lakhowal, added that a few days ago, Mann had called a meeting of farmers’ unions in Chandigarh to seek suggestions and we had suggested Rs 5000 per acre incentive to follow DSR technique. “We want the CM to increase the incentive,” he said.
Meanwhile, farmers have demanded regular power supply for their land for irrigation purpose before May 20. They said that since agriculture supply is bare minimum, 16 farmer unions of Punjab have planned to gherao officers of executive engineers of Punjab state power corporation limited and canal department on May 2. Nirbhai Singh Dhudike, president of Kirti Kisan Union, said, “When they will not give us canal water and power in time, what will these incentives do? This is why we have planned a protest on May 2.” Besides, on May 9, farmers’ unions plan to march towards the houses of MLAs of Punjab on tractors and motorcycles.
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