For sustainable development of agriculture and enhancing farm income of Punjab's farmers, agri scientists stressed upon diversification, technological innovations, agro-processing, institutional changes for reducing cost of production in the ongoing Agri Summit organised by Punjab government in association with PHD Chamber.
The experts mentioned that the paddy area in the state must be reduced and the state must diversify and start cultivating other crops like maize, sugar cane, fruits and vegetables to raise farmers' income and keep a check on the depleting water table. Currently the total area under Paddy is about 28 lakh hectare.
Addressing the participants during the session on 'Challenges and Way Forward for Punjab Agriculture', Vice Chancellor of Punjab Agriculture University (PAU) Dr B S Dhillon said that Punjab can sustain only 16 lakh hectare of paddy. The remaining 12 lakh hectare can be replaced with other crops like Maize, Cotton, Sugarcane, Pulses, Fruits and Vegetables under diversification.
In order to support diversification, the state should provide a level playing field in terms of policy support like remunerative prices for the crop, assured marketing for alternatives, value addition and processing. The state has to also give thrust on biotechnology to increase the productivity, he added.
Dhillon said on road to Green Revolution Punjab virtually exported its water and nutrients to other states. He said that the state discharged its 'national duty' at a very high cost. He sought higher financial support from the centre for agriculture, stressed on need for expansion and strengthening of R&D, enhanced subsidies to promote natural resource management for secured future and the need to create awareness amongst citizens about their responsibility in conservation of natural resources.
Speaking to Business Standard, Dr. GS Khush, Ex-Head of division of plant breeding genetics and Biochemistry, International Rice Research Institute also stressed upon diversification to address the problem of depleting water table in the state.
Dr S. Ayyappan, Director General, Indian Council of Agricultural Research, New Delhi stressed on the need to improve the coordination between the farmers and the agro scientists.
He said after implementation of Food Security Act, the country is once again looking towards Punjab but Punjab needs to conserve its soil and water along with adopting diversification in agriculture. He suggested that integrated farming techniques make farming a profitable venture.
He suggested the farmers to resort to 'Agro Business Principle' instead of considering farming as just a mere occupation. Giving tips on reduction in input costs and subsequent increase in profit, he said the farmers should prepare a water budget for optimal use of water resources.