Chandigarh, Aug 17: Farmers of Punjab, where a massive whitefly attack occurred last year, have opted for paddy this year and about 30.10-lakh hectare land has been sown during the ongoing kharif season.
Decline in cotton acreage because of fear of whitefly pest and lesser area under other crops against targeted area are being attributed to increase in acreage in paddy.
With completion of the crop sowing, area under paddy has grown to 30.10 lakh hectares in current kharif season as against 29.75 lakh hectares last season.
The target for current kharif season for paddy was set at 27.10 lakh hectares, an official of Punjab Agriculture department said. "...this time is an all-time high acreage in the state. The major reason...has been the reduction in cotton acreage during current kharif season," he said.
Besides, the area under basmati crop has also dipped by 35 per cent because of low prices fetched by growers, thus forcing growers to sow traditional varieties of paddy. Area under basmati was 4.90 lakh hectares as against 7.63 lakh hectares of acreage.
"After facing damage in cotton crop last year because of whitefly pest, growers this year brought down acreage under cotton and preferred to sow ordinary and common varieties of paddy which is a risk free crop because of assured marketing," Punjab State Farmers Commission, economist, P S Rangi said today.
"Growers even shifted area under basmati to common varieties after they failed to fetch remunerative returns from aromatic varieties. These factors primarily led to increase in area under paddy," he said.
State government had launched crop diversification programme which has been pushing growers to shift area under paddy to other crops like cotton, maize, basmati, sugarcane, pulses. As far as other crops are concerned, area under maize stood at 1.45 lakh hectares as against the target of 2 lakh hectares.
Similarly, sugarcane area was recorded at 96,000 hectares. In neighbouring state Haryana, area under paddy was 12.46 lakh hectares in current kharif season as against 12.24 lakh hectares of area last year.
In 2014-15, area under paddy was 12.87 lakh hectares. Like in Punjab, area under cotton also went down in Haryana to 5.23 lakh hectares as against acreage of 5.83 lakh hectares last year.
The state has set a target of 6.20 lakh hectares of area under fiber. However, Bajra crop has seen upswing in acreage to 4.85 lakh hectares as against 3.80 lakh hectares last year. But area under guar crop dipped to 2.61 lakh hectares in comparison to 3.67 lakh hectares last season in Haryana.