BATHINDA: Cotton-sowing season is almost over in Punjab, but the state is 30% short of its targeted area under the crop. Till May 29, sowing was recorded over only 2.83 lakh hectares, against the of 4-lakh-hectare target. Cotton is the second biggest kharif crop of Punjab after paddy, including basmati.
The state agriculture and farmer welfare department has issued directions to its officials in districts to keep an eye on cotton sown after May 15—the ideal time for sowing—as 37% of the crop was sown after that. The issue was discussed at the inter-state monitoring committee meeting in Bathinda on Wednesday, which was held to review sowing in Punjab and Haryana.
Shortage of canal water is cited as the main reason behind less and late sowing of cotton in the state. Bhakra main branch canal is likely to be closed for south-western districts of Malwa from May 31, which will further complicate matters.
Only Fazilka district has reached near the sowing target at 72,000 hectares, with the target being 80,000 hectares. Other seven cotton-growing districts have fallen well short. Mansa has fared the worst with sowing only in 40,000 hectares against the target of 88,500 hectares.
Punjab director of agriculture J S Bains and joint director Sukhdev Singh admitted that cotton sowing had remained well short of the target. “We expect sowing to cross 3 lakh hectares in the coming few days. We have asked officials to keep a tab on late sown crop. Late sowing this year is less as compared to previous year. In 2017, cotton was sown later over 1.05 lakh hectares and this time it is 85,000 hectares,” Bains said.
Farmer organisation BKU (Ekta Ugrahan) activists on Wednesday held a protest at the office of the executive engineer (XEN) of the irrigation department at Mansa against proposed closing of the Bhakra canal from Thursday onwards. BKU (Ekta Ugrahan) Mansa unit chief Ram Singh Bhainibagha said the canal water had been scarce this time. “Again, the canal will go dry from Thursday due to which farmers will suffer heavily. The canal’s closure needs to be deferred to help farmers sow cotton and protect it from burning to hot weather conditions,” he said.Source: timesofindia.indiatimes.com