Friday, June 14, 2013

Pre-monsoons shower relief on farmers in Punjab, Haryana

CHANDIGARH:Jun 14, 2013,

Pre-monsoon showers in many parts of Punjab and Haryana on Thursday are likely to ease transplanting of paddy and also help in growth of other kharif (summer sown) crops, say farmers and experts. The India Meteorological Department (IMD) has forecast more rainfall in the region in the next four days, which is likely to provide relief to crops sown in areas which are either rain-fed or irrigated by canals in both the states.

Welcoming the pre-monsoon rainfall, Punjab director of agriculture Mangal Singh Sandhu said, \"These showers have come as a big relief for farmers. Paddy transplantation commenced on June 10 in the state, which is likely to gather pace now as farmers and labourers will not have to work in scorching conditions since the temperatures have dropped considerably. Moreover, these rains are likely to benefit the crops sown last month like cotton, sugarcane and pulses.\"

With light to moderate rainfall forecast over the next few days, it will also reduce dependence on electricity and diesel to run pumpsets for drawing groundwater to flood the paddy fields, thereby reducing the input cost of farmers. \"Last year we had no rains till the first week of July. Besides, there was poor availability of electricity so we had to spend a lot of money on diesel to run the pumpsets for irrigating the paddy fields,\" said Balwinder Singh from Mehraj village in Bathinda district.

Monsoons were delayed by a week in both Punjab and Haryana in 2012, which hurt prospects of paddy and other crops. While farmers had to spend more on irrigating the paddy, less rainfall also hurt other crops like cotton, oilseed and pulses in the rain-fed areas.

Even farmers in Haryana will be pleased with the pre-monsoon showers as paddy transplantation begins in the state on June 15. \"Monsoon was late and weak in 2012 so the yield of paddy crop suffered in our area. However, these rains augur well this time,\" said Pawan Poonia from Sonti village in Kurukshetra district.

Apart from stepping up the pace for paddy transplantation, pre-monsoon rains are also seen beneficial for cotton crop in both states as there were reports of burning of cotton leaves due to higher temperatures. \"Cotton and other summer crops sown in sandy soils will get a boost from these showers,\" said Paramvir Singh, a progressive farmer with postgraduate degree in agriculture science, from Muktsar district.

Punjab and Haryana have set the target area under paddy crop, including basmati, at 27.50 lakh hectares and 12 lakh hectares respectively this kharif season. In 2012, paddy acreage was 28.45 lakh hectares in Punjab, and in Haryana it was 12.15 lakh hectares in 2012. Together these states contribute between 30-35% of the total paddy bought by the Food Corporation of India (FCI) for the national foodgrain buffer stock. As per FCI data, total paddy procured from Punjab for the 2012-13 kharif marketing season was 88.70 lakh tonnes and 26.37 lakh tonnes from Haryana out of total 327.89 lakh tonnes.

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