At 188 lakh tonnes, Punjab procures 4% less paddy this year, but still second highest ever

This is the state’s second highest procurement overall after one of the highest per-hectare yield ever, according to the Punjab Agriculture Department’s Crop Cutting Experiments (CCEs) across 23 districts of the state.

Punjab has procured 4 per cent less paddy this year compared to last year with the figure currently standing at around 188 lakh tonnes. The current kharif season had also seen around 5 per cent less area under paddy (non-bbasmati) this year compared 2020.

However, this is still Punjab’s second highest procurement overall after one of the highest per hectare yield ever, according to the Punjab Agriculture Department’s Crop Cutting Experiments (CCEs) across 23 districts of the state.

Total 187. 86 lakh tonnes of paddy arrived in Punjab’s mandis this year for the government purchase on MSP till November 14, while last year total 203 lakh tonnes paddy – the highest ever — was procured when there was an all time high area under paddy.

The Punjab government had estimated to procure 190 lakh tonnes (19 million tonnes) paddy this season.

As per FCI records 162.54 LT was procured in 2019-20, 169.36 LT in 2018-19, 176.9 LT (2017-18), 165.15 LT in 2016-17.

Around 54 per cent paddy arrived from seven out of 23 districts of Punjab with Sangrur district topping the list where 20.19 lakh tonnes paddy was procured followed by Ludhiana and Patiala where 17. 58 lakh tonnes and 14.53 lakh tonnes paddy was procured, respectively.

This was followed by Bathinda (13.11 LT), Moga (12.81 LT), Ferozepur (12.19 LT) and Jalandhar (10.77 LT).

This year, according to the Punjab Agriculture department, 30.66 lakh hectares area was under rice, including 26.05 lakh hectares under paddy, against 31.49 lakh hectares under rice, including 27.43 lakh hectares under paddy, last year. This means that 1.38 lakh hectares (3.41 lakh acres) area was diverted from paddy to other kharif season crops this season.

According to the Agriculture department, as per the results of 76 per cent CCEs conducted in all the districts across the state, Punjab  has recorded 6,776 kg (6.77 tonnes) paddy production per hectare this time against the 6,631 kg (6.63 tonnes) per hectare last year. This is one of the highest yields per hectare.

Before this, last year and in the year 2017-18, paddy yield was 6,631 kg and 6,932 kg (according to PAU), respectively.

Punjab’s paddy yield from 1960-61 to 1970-71 was between 1,553 to 2,774 kg per hectare and then yield started increasing from 1980-81 when it was recorded at 4,099 kg per hectare. Then 1990s onward it had increased to 5,265 kg and then remained between 5,700 to 6,100 kg per hectare in the past around three decades barring 2017-18, 2020-21 and now this year till date.

Even districts like Moga, Sangrur, and Ludhiana have recorded 7.4, 7.1 and 6.8 tonnes per hectare yield, respectively, as per the results of CCEs,  which is more than the average yield of the entire state.

This year the procurement got delayed because of the delay in withdrawal of the monsoon season, which ended on October 10 against September-end, and then rains during the harvesting season, but still the state managed to procure almost the entire crop in time.

Secretary, Punjab Mandi Board, Ravi Bhagat, said that the procurement is almost at the end because now the daily arrival is just nominal as Sunday only 3,000 tonnes arrived.

He informed that 11, 36,300 farmers were registered on Anaj Kharid portal for selling their paddy in the mandis this year and the direct payment was made in their accounts.

According to the Punjab Agriculture University (PAU), Ludhiana, out of total water demand for agriculture — about 60.0 BCM, the irrigation demand of paddy is 70 per cent.

According to the Central Groundwater Board (CGWB) report 4,000 litres water is required to grow one kg of paddy.

The CGWB report says that with the increasing paddy area in the state, the water table has also started declining. With the advent of the Green Revolution in the state in 1966-67, paddy, historically never the main crop of Punjab, was adopted on a large scale.

The area under it increased from 2.93 lakh hectares (LH) in 1966-67 to 31.49 LH in 2020, which was the highest-ever area under rice cultivation in the history of Punjab. This is an almost 11-time increase in rice area in five decades.

In past five years since 2017, the area under rice cultivation touched over 3 million hectares including the highest area under paddy too between 25.44 lakh hectares to 27.43 lakh hectares.

Records shows that with the increase of paddy area the water table also started going down. There were 53 blocks in the state under dark zone dark/overexploited zone, which means groundwater extraction is more than 100 per cent here, till 1984 when paddy area was less than 2 million hectares. Then the number of dark zones increased to 73 blocks (53 per cent of the Punjab) out of total 138 blocks in 1999 when the area under paddy increased to around 2.3 million hectares. Then 103 blocks slid into the dark zone in 2004, which increased to 109 blocks in 2017, with five blocks being under the semi-critical (groundwater extraction 70 to 90 per cent) zone. This as paddy area during this time increased to 2.4 and 2.6 million hectares.

Currently, around 80 per cent blocks of the state have already dried up and four per cent are on the verge of drying up.

PAU and CGWB experts suggested that this area under paddy should not be more than 1.5 million hectares against 2.5 to 2.7 million hectares now to save the water table.

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