Punjab Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann on Sunday held a meeting with representatives of farmer unions, urging them to opt for crop diversification and direct seeding of rice to save water.
He said the state government will take up with the Centre the issue of giving remunerative price of alternative crops.
Mann held the meeting with members of the Samyukt Kisan Morcha (SKM), the grouping which had led the stir against the Centre’s farm laws.
He sought inputs from representatives of 23 farmer organisations present in the meeting over the issue of providing staggered power supply to the agriculture sector.
The CM said the proposed staggered power supply will help in avoiding the peak load during the paddy sowing season, according to an official release.
He suggested equitable power supply through Punjab State Power Corporation Limited as per region-wise demand, dividing the state into four zones.
Mann directed officials to visit villages to encourage farmers to adopt the direct seeding of rice (DSR) technique to save water and electricity.
Earlier, Bharti Kisan Union (Ekta Ugrahan) led by its president Joginder Singh Ugrahan called on the chief minister at his residence who also solicited views from him for the promotion of the DSR.
Expressing concern over the findings of a study conducted by Punjab Agricultural University experts, the chief minister said it is a high time to shift from the paddy transplantation to eco-friendly and economically viable DSR technique, which will go a long way in saving the ground water up to 15-20 per cent.
It also enhanced recharging the underground water by 10-15 per cent and saves nearly Rs 3,000 per acre on input costs, including labour, said Mann.
Under the DSR technique, paddy seeds are drilled into the field with the help of a machine that does seeding of rice and spray of herbicide simultaneously.
According to the traditional method, first nurseries are raised by farmers and then these are uprooted and transplanted in a puddled field.
Mann also motivated farmers to opt diversification of agriculture by sowing alternative crops like sugarcane, maize, pulses and oil seeds.
Mann assured them that the state government will soon take up the issue of giving minimum support price on these crops with the Centre, adding the state agencies like Markfed would also be roped in for procurement.
He urged the farmers to go for sowing of paddy varieties–PR 126 and PR 121–with short duration of maturity while the cultivation of Pusa 144 should be discouraged.
Mann also asked the farmer unions to encourage to sow basmati as it was less water-intensive crop and fetches remunerative price.
He assured farmers that the state government will extend all possible marketing support for the purchase of basmati.
Emphasising the need for restoration of canal irrigation system, Mann directed the water resources department to immediately chalk out a detailed action programme for the cleaning of water channels, distributaries and canals.
Meanwhile, farmer leader Jagjit Singh Dallewal told reporters that they raised the issue of bonus to farmers for the drop in wheat yield because of the early onset of heatwave.
“We demanded Rs 500 per quintal bonus on wheat from the CM,” said Dallewal.
Dallewal claimed that Mann assured them that compensation to the affected wheat growers will be given.
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