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Punjab Farmers stick to environmentally harmful Paddy

The CEEW report highlighted that 36% of the 1,478 farmers surveyed in 11 districts of Punjab grew Pusa 44 in Kharif 2022 due to its high yield.

News Arena Network - Chandigarh - UPDATED: July 3, 2024, 05:01 AM - 3 mins read

Punjab farmers continue to cultivate high-yield but environmentally harmful Pusa 44 paddy variety.

Punjab Farmers stick to environmentally harmful Paddy

Punjab farmers continue to cultivate high-yield but environmentally harmful Pusa 44 paddy variety. Representative Image.


Despite the Punjab government's efforts to promote sustainable crop residue management, farmers in the state's high-stubble-burning districts continue to cultivate Pusa 44, a long-duration and water-intensive paddy variety. 

 

The CEEW report highlighted that 36% of the 1,478 farmers surveyed in 11 districts of Punjab grew Pusa 44 in Kharif 2022 due to its high yield.

 

The survey conducted by researchers from the Delhi-based independent think tank Council on Energy, Environment and Water (CEEW) also revealed that:

 

  • Nearly half of farmers using in-situ crop residue management machines still burn some loose paddy straw.
  • Short-duration varieties like PR 126 are gaining popularity, with 66% of farmers cultivating them in 2022.
  • Stubble burning is more prevalent among medium and large farmers than small and marginal farmers.
  • Farmers fear receiving financial penalties and red entries in revenue records if they don't burn stubble.

 

Although farmers prefer Pusa 44 for its higher yield, current agricultural subsidies for electricity and fertiliser lead them to overlook the crop's environmental impact, said Kurinji Kemanth, Programme Associate at CEEW. 

 

Due to Pusa 44's environmentally harmful characteristics, the state government de-notified the variety in October 2023. However, it remains in circulation primarily through private seed dealers, Kemanth added.

 

The survey revealed that 57.7 per cent of PR growers sowed PR 126 in Kharif 2022. A significant reason for this demand surge was the Punjab government's May 2022 announcement to procure summer moong dal at the minimum support price (MSP) if farmers sowed PR 126 or basmati after harvesting moong.

Farmers primarily opted for this newly promoted variety due to the assured procurement of summer moong by the government.

 

Since 2010, the Punjab government has promoted nine short-duration varieties to combat groundwater depletion and stubble burning. These varieties have gained popularity, with 66% of farmers cultivating them in 2022.

 

The practice of stubble burning is prevalent in northern states like Punjab and Haryana, where rice-wheat farming dominates. Studies estimate that during peak burning periods, farm fires contribute up to 30 per cent of PM levels in the Delhi-NCR region and surrounding areas.

 

Experts emphasize the need for effective crop residue management methods to prevent environmental and health hazards. The timely deployment and widespread adoption of sustainable practices are crucial to addressing the issue.

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