Due to the closure of Lambi minor, Arniwala minor canals this season for repairs and the whitefly attack on cotton crop last season, farmers in Muktsar district have started abandoning cotton. They are opting for other crops like ‘arhar dal’ and maize.

The trends show that the area under cotton crop will decrease sharply. Even agriculture experts said that they were expecting the total area under cotton crop to remain nearly 50,000 hectares this year, which last year was 78,000 hectares, in Muktsar district.

They said the farmers were moving towards ‘arhar dal’ and had sown it in nearly 3,000 hectares in the district.

“The shortage of water due to the closure of Lambi minor and Arniwala minor has forced the farmers to opt for other crops. They are switching to ‘arhar dal’ because of its high prices last year and maize as well. This is a new trend in this area. Though after renovation, water was released in Lambi minor yesterday, it developed breaches,” said Beant Singh, Chief Agriculture Officer, Muktsar.

He added, “The sowing of cotton can be delayed till the end of this month at maximum. As of now, nearly 36,000 hectares have been brought under cotton crop in the district. We are appealing to farmers to start maize cultivation from June 1.”

Meanwhile, the Agriculture Department has announced subsidy on maize seeds. “As some farmers could not sow cotton crop due to the closure of Lambi minor and Arniwala minor, we have announced subsidy of Rs 84 per kg on maize seed up to five acres per farmer,” said Satwant Singh, Joint Director, Agriculture, Punjab.

Agriculture officials in Muktsar said the state government had not installed maize dryers in the area and the farmers opting for this crop might have to face difficulties in marketing. Maize was sown in just 300 acres in Muktsar district last year.

Source: May 21, 2016, The Tribune