Sustainable Agriculture: Punjab has a new plan to move farmers away from water-guzzling paddy

Written by Anju Agnihotri Chaba
| Jalandhar |
Published: February 15, 2018 3:58 am

Farmer Satwinder Singh Sandhu standing next to his farm tubewell at Shahabpura village in Punjab’s Gurdaspur district. (Express Photo: Anju Agnihotri Chaba)

For two decades or more, successive governments have tried weaning away farmers in Punjab from growing paddy. Their efforts have borne little fruit, as the area under this water-guzzling crop has only gone up from 11.83 lakh hectares (lh) in 1980-81 to 20.15 lh in 1990-91, 26.12 lh in 2000-01 and 30.46 lh in 2016-17.

The primary culprit here has been free power supply to farmers. It has led to groundwater overdraft and incentivising cultivation of paddy over maize, cotton, groundnut and other less water-intensive crops (which also don’t benefit from minimum support price-based state procurement). The…

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