Punjab has completed rice sowing on 95 per cent of the targeted area for 2019, with sowing still on to cover the rest. The sowing trend shows that there could be a rise in basmati (fine aromatic) area and a fall in the paddy (parmal rice) after a gap of three years which is good for state too where the water table is depleting fast due to huge area under paddy.
Data sourced from Punjab Agriculture Department’s statistics wing showed that out of 29 lakh hectare (LH), rice (both paddy and Basmati) transplantation has been done on 27.46 lh, while 18, 492 hectare area has been brought under Direct Seeding Rice (DSR) which led to total sowing on 27.64 LH till July 14.
Last year, on the same date Punjab had completed sowing on 28.65 lakh hectares.
“We are expecting that this year it would be nearly two LH area less under paddy crop, and it is expected to come under basmati, maize and cotton which are best alternative crops for paddy,” said Director, Punjab Agriculture Department, Dr Sutantra Kumar Airy, adding that if the results come as per our expectations then there would be huge saving of ground water.
“Producing one kg of rice consumes 4500 litres of water. On one hectare, around 72 to 75 quintals (7200 to 7500 kg) rice is grown. So even a decrease of two LH means saving huge amount of water,” he said.
Punjab would see this fall in paddy area after a gap of three years. In 2018, 2017 and 2016, rice was cultivated on total 30.42 LH, 30.65 LH and over 30 lakh hectares, respectively, out of which paddy was grown on 25.05 LH in 2018, 25.19 LH in 2017 nd 25.06 LH in 2016.
“Our target is to bring at least 7 lakh hectare under basmati this year and if it happens then automatically the area under paddy would get reduced which is a good development for Punjab state where over production of paddy has hit the ground water badly,” said Basmati Exporter and director of the exporters association, Ashok Sethi.
It was in the year 2014 and 2015 when Punjab had seen highest ever acreage under basmati with 8.61 LH and 7.63 LH, respectively.