While Punjab is unfazed about losing its ‘maximum wheat producing state’ to Madhya Pradesh despite being at the top for six decades, it blames three factors – climate, charity and Covid-19 – for procuring lesser wheat than MP this year.
While Punjab’s procurement, that officially ended on May 31, was 1,27,11,895 M Tons, MP led with a procurement of 1,27,67,628 MT – a difference of 55,733 MT.
For six decades, Punjab has been the top wheat producer and it has paid a price by using fertilisers, pesticides and over-exploiting its underground aquifers. The agriculture state not only has a huge pesticide overload but is also facing desertification.
The government, however, is convinced that there was nothing for Madhya Pradesh to rejoice as this time three factors have influenced the wheat procurement.
Punjab Agriculture Secretary Kahan Singh Pannu told The Indian Express that adverse climate in the form of untimely rains that hit Patiala, Ropar, Fatehgarh Sahib and Mohali districts and the ripe wheat crop was standing in water. This led to shriveling of grains and hence affecting the total yield.
“Also, Punjab farmers, known for their philanthropy donated large amounts of wheat to charity for helping the needy amid Covid curfew. Wheat directly made way to the gurdwaras, NGOs and other philanthropist bodies helping the poor. The SGPC also said that they have collected record amount of wheat in donations. That wheat was grown by our farmers. It did not come to the mandis but was used elsewhere,” he said.
Pannu added that there were several farmers, who did not bring the produce to mandis due to the fear of Covid-19.
“We were the ones to encourage them to store the grains at the houses. A number of them have done it. Though the official procurement is over, the farmers still have the grains that they will be selling in the open market.Pannu said the area of MP under wheat cultivation was at least 10 times than Punjab. “Moreover theirs is rain-fed irrigation and we have invested so much in last 30 years in the form of tubewells. We have nothing to worry.” As per the latest data, Punjab has over 14 lakh tubewells in the state which are often scoffed at by the environmentalists.
Not only the government but the farmers are also not worried, “Punjab farmers are on the top. We will not let this tag go. Their area is much more than us. It is such a big state. There may be certain factors which I will need to study but nobody can beat us in production. We will be on top in the years to come. The fields cannot produce more than what we do here,” said Sukhdev Singh Kokri Kalan, an office bearer of Bharti Kisan Union (Ugrahan).
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