In a push for crop diversification, experts in Punjab Agricultural University (PAU) Ludhiana and Punjab Agriculture Department have recommended several Kharif crops to the farmers so as to avoid ‘oversowing’ of the water-guzzling paddy (non-basmati) crop. With the beginning of the Kharif season, The Indian Express gives you the lowdown on the competitive edge that these crops have vis-a-vis paddy, besides getting down to brass tacks like – which are these crops, how farmers can choose their crops, what’s the input cost and net profit, among others.
Dr Amrik Singh, District Training Officer, Punjab Agriculture Department, Gurdaspur, said that there are several options available with the farmers to decrease the area under paddy by growing these Kharif crops. “One can start from a small area and then can increase gradually, as a small start by lakhs of farmers in the state can bring a big change,” he said, adding that inter-cropping of several such crops is also possible and it can earn farmers either equal to paddy or more than that. In terms of groundwater saving and soil conservation, these crops will stand farmers in good stead.
Basmati (aromatic rice variety): The transplanting of basmati saplings will start from July. According to PAU, its average yield (there are different varieties of it) is 16 quintal per acre. Farmers sold it at Rs 2,700 to Rs 4,000 per quintal last season. The total income calculated by PAU is Rs 63,005 per acre, while the expenditure is Rs 21,033 per acre and net profit is Rs 41,972 per acre. The advantage of it is that the crop duration is around one month less as opposed to paddy which means huge saving of water. Also, it is sown during the monsoon in the state, so most of the water requirement is met by the rains. It gives around Rs 4,000 more income per acre.
Sugarcane plantation: Cane sowing is done three times in Punjab. First in September-October (autumn planting), second in February-March (spring planting) and third in May (summer planting). It is an annual crop. The average yield is 360 quintal per acre, the total income is Rs 1,43,550 per acre, the expenditure is Rs 79,321 per acre and net profit is 64,229 per acre. In autumn planting, the farmers also go for inter-cropping of vegetables, pulses, mustard and wheat because the cane plant’s height remains dormant during winter.
Sugarcane ratoon: Ratooning is a process of harvesting where only the above-ground parts are cut leaving the root part uncut. So after harvesting of cane, its buds remain in the field only and they sprout. There is no need to plant a fresh crop under this method. In Punjab, 60%-65% is planted crop, while 35%-40% is ratoon crop. It is also a full-year crop. The average yield is 270 quintal per acre, total income is Rs 1,08,900 per acre, the expenditure is Rs 41,794 per acre and net profit is Rs 67,106 per acre.
Moong lentil: The sowing of it also starts during the second half of July (for sub-mountainous region) and in plain area from June-end to the first week of July. The crop duration is around 2.5 months. The average yield is 4.5 quintal per acre, total income is Rs 35,948 per acre, the expenditure is Rs 13,045 per acre and the net profit is Rs 22,903 per acre. It can also be sown in maize fields. It requires very less water and also fixes nitrogen in the soil. Both maize and this crop can earn around Rs 50,000 per acre.
Mah lentil: The sowing of it is the same as moong. Its duration is around three months. The average yield is 3.6 quintal per acre, total income is Rs 24,960 per acre, the expenditure is Rs 14, 572 per acre and the net profit is Rs 10,388 per acre. It can be taken with maize crop.
Arhar lentil: Its sowing also starts during the second half of May. Its duration is 4.5 months. The average yield is 5.3 quintals per acre, the total income is Rs 38, 730 per acre, the expenditure is Rs 16,515 per acre and net profit is Rs 22, 215 per acre. It is sown in the sub-mountainous region and requires less water relatively. It is good for inter-cropping with maize.
Groundnuts: The sowing of it also starts in April and it continues till May in plain area. In semi-hilly area, its sowing starts by June-end and continues till the first week of July. The crop duration is four months. The average yield is 12 quintal per acre, total income is Rs 71,400 per acre, the expenditure is Rs 31,785 per acre and net profit is Rs 39, 615 per acre. It also requires less water than paddy.
Til (sesame): The sowing of it starts during the first half of July. The average yield of this three-month crop is 2.7 quintal per acre, total income is Rs 22,341 per acre, the expenditure is Rs 11,792 per acre and net profit is Rs 10,549 per acre.
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