The Punjab agriculture department is planning to bring under cultivation at least 20 lakh acres of a total of 62 lakh-acre paddy area through the direct seeding of rice (DSR) technique in the upcoming kharif season.

This will be twice the last year’s 10 lakh acres sowed through the water-conservation technique. This will be besides the targeted cultivated area of 12 lakh acres under the basmati.

To achieve the target, the department has started organising camps in villages promoting the sowing.

The sowing of paddy starts in Punjab in mid-June.

State agriculture director Sukhdev Singh Sidhu said, “We will put all arrangements in place and identify the areas where cultivation through DSR will take place so that the crop is monitored closely. During the last season farmers experienced some problems when the DSR method was introduced for the first time. We want to help farmers rectify those hiccups this time.”

He added, “We appeal to the farmers to sow the PR-126 variety of paddy as it is best suited for the DSR technique. The PUSA-44 variety should be avoided. Our objective is to bring at least one-third of the total paddy area barring basmati under DSR.”

Punjab Agricultural University (PAU) vice-chancellor BS Dhillon said it will be a step towards water conservation and sustainable agriculture. “Our goal should be to save water through the method. We are helping farmers earn handsomely as well as save the environment,” said Dhillon.

The DSR technique saves 15-20% of water consumed by the traditional method of puddling at time of transplanting paddy samplings. As per estimates of the Commission for Agricultural Costs and Prices, 1kg rice consumes 3,367 litre water.

Makhan Singh Bhullar, head of the department of agronomy, PAU, said all 12,000 villages have been covered under DSR and 87% coarse paddy area in Punjab can be cultivated through the technique.

“At the camps, we are also holding field demonstrations for farmers who have adopted the method,” he added.

Source: 22 March, 2021, Hindustan Times