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Wednesday, June 16, 2021

Punjab targets to bring one million hectare under DSR in this paddy season

Punjab farmers had planted paddy using the DSR technique, instead of traditional transplanting, in the kharif season last year too in around 5 lakh hectares of land.

Written by Anju Agnihotri Chaba | Jalandhar |
May 15, 2021 12:07:30 am
Direct seeding is a method under which pre-germinated seeds are directly drilled into the field by a tractor-powered machine. (File)

The Punjab government, anticipating a shortage of migrant labour in the upcoming paddy transplantation season, has decided to bring one million hectares under the Direct Seeding of Rice (DSR) technique for the crop this year.

Punjab farmers had planted paddy using the DSR technique, instead of traditional transplanting, in the kharif season last year too in around 5 lakh hectares of land.

Direct seeding is a method under which pre-germinated seeds are directly drilled into the field by a tractor-powered machine.

There is no nursery preparation or transplantation involved in this method. Farmers have to only level their land and give one pre-sowing irrigation.

The government has also requested the Punjab State Power Corporation Limited (PSPCL) to make the arrangements in power supply schedule for consumers using agricultural pump sets during the forthcoming paddy season.

In a letter dated May 13 and addressed to chairman-cum-managing director of PSPCL, the Additional Chief Secretary (Development) of Punjab, Anirudh Tewari, requested CMD PSPCL, A Venu Prasad, to make necessary arrangements to ensure eight hours of power supply from May 25 to June 2, four-hour power supply from June 3 to June 9 and again eight hour power supply from June 10 onwards for all agricultural consumers.

The letter further says that the department is promoting DSR during kharif season this year to conserve 10 to 15 per cent irrigation water as compared to the puddle transplanted rice. The department, the letter added, targets to bring an area of one million hectares (10 Lakh hectares ) under DSR during the forthcoming season.

The letter also says that Punjab Agriculture University (PAU), Ludhiana, has also recommended the DSR technique in the state, with effect from June 1 in ‘tar wattar’ conditions — that is in fields that have high moisture content without any additional expenditure, which actually results in saving groundwater and therefore reduced power consumption.

Dr Balwinder Singh Sidhu, Agriculture Commissioner of Punjab, said that committing one million hectares was a major policy decision and the promotion of DSR will lead to conservation of groundwater and save farmers from labour shortage. He further said that 1017 camps have been organised in a cluster of five villages each across the paddy transplanting districts of the state to train and educate the farmers in the DSR technique.

He said that the official date of paddy transplanting is June 10 and it will be followed strictly.

Farmers of the Punjab on the other hand, however, have demanded that the government not fix any date for paddy transplanting this year because of the ongoing Covid pandemic and shortage of labour. They say that around 2.7 to 2.8 million hectares is already dedicated to rice cultivation and this requires a large number of labourers.

Jagmohan Singh, General Secretary Bharti Kisan Union (BKU), Daukunda, said that this time they would be mostly dependent on the local khet mazdoors for paddy transplanting and if the power supply to tube-wells is given before June 1, then farmers can even start transplantation at their own level

He said that a fixed date to start the cultivation of paddy will lead to big gatherings in the fields which might lead to the spread of Covid among the farmers.

Singh also said that the DSR method is not suitable on certain types of soil and in such fields only transplanting methods work.

He said that if the government does not agree to their demands, then the farmers will be forced to start an agitation.

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