This is 5 per cent more than on the same date last year despite the labour shortage; experts attribute it to mechanisation, good pre-monsoon showers.

by Anju Agnihotri Chaba |

Jalandhar | June 27, 2020

DESPITE THE labour shortage amid the Covid-19 pandemic, around 55 per cent of sowing of kharif crops has been completed in Punjab, 5 per cent more than last year. The state agriculture department attributed this to mechanisation and good pre-monsoon showers. There is over 41 lakh hectares of cultivable area in the state — including both agriculture and horticulture.

The state agriculture department had targeted sowing kharif crops in 36 lakh hectares area, which included 27 lakh hectares under paddy (including seven lakh hectares basmati rice), 5 lakh hectares under cotton, 3 lakh hectares under maize, 1 lakh hectares under sugarcane, and around 40,000-50,000 hectares under pulses, groundnut, and sesame, etc.

Data sourced from the state agriculture department showed that till June 22, Punjab had completed kharif sowing on 19.72 lakh hectares, which is nearly 55 per cent of the total sowing, against the 17.90 lakh hectares on the same date last year. Paddy, pulses (moong, mash, and arhar), maize, sugarcane, cotton, groundnut, and sesame are the main crops sown during kharif season.

Among kharif crops, maize has shown an upward trend in sowing as 1.29 lakh hectares have already been brought under the crop — 37,000 hectares more than last year. Till June 22 last year, 92,000 hectares was under maize. In Hoshiarpur, maize has been sown on 52,000 hectares against 43,000 hectares last year till June 22 and in Ropar, maize sowing on 22,000 hectares has been down against 13,000 hectares last year.

Cotton too had shown an upward trend as 5.01 lakh hectares had been sown against 3.92 lakh hectares last year, over one lakh hectares more. Pulses too recorded over 6,000 hectares against 5,000 hectares sowing last year.

Paddy sowing was completed on 12.39 lakh hectares against 12.04 lakh hectares sown during this period in 2019. It also implies that Punjab has already completed paddy sowing on 46 per cent of the targeted area. Sugarcane however has been sown on fewer hectares — 9,5001 — as compared to last year, 95,009.

In cotton-sowing, Bathinda district topped with 1.72 lakh hectares sowing against 1.39 lakh hectares last year. Fazilka came second with 1.22 lakh hectares against 92,000 hectares last year. Muktsar and Mansa have also shown a big increase in cotton area with 1.01 lakh hectares and 93,700 hectares, respectively, against 71,000 hectares and 73,000 hectares last year respectively.

An agriculture official said, “Punjab is a highly farmed mechanised state as most of the crops here are sown through tractor-mounted farm machinery. Cotton, maize etc. all are sown through machines. Even paddy has been sown this time through DSR and paddy transplanters on a large scale.

According to the Indian Meteorological Department’s Chandigarh office, Punjab has received 22 per cent more pre-monsoon showers in June. Out of 22 districts, only six had less rain in the pre-monsoon period, which included Muktsar (94 per cent less), Bathinda (84 per cent less), Faridkot (69 per cent), Mansa (61 per cent), Ferozepur (59 per cent) and Tarn Taran (31 per cent), while Fateh Garh Sahib (330 per cent surplus), Kapurthala (319 per cent surplus) and Moga (119 per cent surplus) recorded excess rain.

Punjab Agriculture University (PAU) officials said that despite less rain in Bathinda, Muktsar and Mansa, there was no very heavy toll on groundwater because in these districts, more area was dedicated under cotton crop which needs less water than paddy. Director, agriculture department, Dr Sutantra Airi said that this time, the department has targeted to sow more area under cotton and maize. “While we have almost met our cotton target and hoping to reach our maize target too, which is 3 lakh hectares as we are already ahead in maize sowing than last year, which is happening because of good pre-monsoon rains and enough machinery,” he added. (Source: