26 May 2020, Chandigarh: The State is about to accomplish its target of 12.5 lakh acres of cotton by 1st week of June under the Crop Diversification Programme initiated by the Punjab Agriculture Department.
The targeted crop shift from paddy to cotton will help conserve water resource of the state, improve soil fertility, reduce stubble burning and move the state agriculture towards sustainability.
Additional Chief Secretary, Development, Mr. Viswajeet Khanna informed, “Punjab had recorded sowing of cotton over an area of 10 lakh acres so far and the set target would be achieved very soon.”
He further mentioned, “Agriculture Department had made timely and adequate arrangement of fertilizer and hybrid seeds of BT Cotton well in advance to ensure seamless sowing of cotton crop across the state amid curfew / lockdown due to COVID-19.
Mr. Khanna said, “The districts of Malwa belt (Southern Punjab) cotton sowing had already crossed the mark of 10 lakh acres. The last year target of 9.80 lakh acres (3.92 lakh hectares) was enhanced to 12.5 lakh acres (5 lakh hectares) this year, which is expected to be completed in the first week of June. “
Delayed sowing in current season
Mr. Khanna further informed, “The sowing of cotton was completed by May end last year but we are seeing delay in the current season as wheat harvesting started on May 15th this year with a delay of two weeks amid COVID-19 restrictions.”
Giving details of cotton sowing in the districts, Mr. Khanna said that so far Bathinda district had recorded maximum sowing of 3.39 lakh acres followed by Fazilka with 2.38 lakh acres and 2.10 lakh acres in Mansa. He said that in Sri Muktsar Sahib 2.02 lakh acres area was under cotton cultivation till date while Sangrur recorded 7800 acres, Faridkot 5800 acres, Barnala 1870 acres and 1257 acres in Moga district.
It may be recalled that 6.62 lakh acres was brought under cotton cultivation during 2018, followed by 9.7 lakh acres in 2019. Subsequently, the Agriculture Department has now further planned to enhance the area under cotton cultivation from 9.7 lakh acres to 12.5 lakh acres.
Assured support from Cotton Corporation of India
The department has also coordinated with the Cotton Corporation of India(CCI) to buy last season’s remaining cotton produce from farmers at the assured MSP and for this 19 markets have already been made operational in the cotton belt. The CCI has also assured its support for purchase of Cotton during next season.
The Agriculture Department has already started a vigorous campaign to remove weeds (host plants of white fly) from vacant plots, roadside, open grounds with the help of line departments. All the Chief Agriculture officers (CAOs) have been directed to complete this task in a mission mode. Mr. Khanna further stated that all the CAOs and staff had been asked to keep strict vigil on the smuggling of unauthorised fake seed into the state which attracts sucking pests resulting in colossal damage to the crop.
Meanwhile, Director Agriculture Mr. Sutantar Kumar Airi informed that in order to further promote crop-diversification in the state, the Department had held several meetings with the CAOs and field staff of the districts having cotton cultivation and directed the officers/officials to ensure smooth and hassle free sowing of cotton crop.