ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Changing Profile of Punjab Agriculture

Need for Diversification

This article examines the overtime profile of Punjab agriculture and the impact of paddy–wheat monoculture on agroecology. It is argued that it becomes imperative to diversify the cropping pattern, especially replacing the area under paddy towards other alternative crops, for sustainable agriculture.

M S Sidhu formerly taught at the Department of Economics and Sociology, PAU, Ludhiana. Amandeep Kaur and Shruti Chopra are Research Fellows, Department of Economics and Sociology, PAU, Ludhiana. Poonam Kataria teaches at the Department of Economics and Sociology, PAU, Ludhiana.

Punjab is one of the agriculturally developed states of India and its productivity of wheat and rice is the highest in the country. The agriculture and livestock sector contribute about 24% of the gross state domestic product (GSDP). About 36% of the total workforce is dependent on the farm sector in the state. Punjab is the largest contributor of wheat and rice as being the major foodgrains. The state contributes about 40%45% of wheat and 28%30% of rice to the central pool. Punjab has been at the forefront of food production in the country, which has been reflected over time in terms of increased productivity and thereby the production of wheat and paddy crops. With the passage of time, paddywheat crop rotation, especially paddy has resulted in developing various problems that have had adverse effect on the agroecology of the state. Although the contribution of Punjab for making India self-reliant in foodgrain production is worth mentioning, with considerable contribution to the central pool over the years thereby ensuring food security for the nation, agricultural sustainability is of vital importance to ensure viability of farming in larger farmers interest.

Keeping this in view, the first diversification report was given by Johl Committee in May 1986 shifting area under paddy towards other crops but no major breakthrough was achieved in terms of its implementation (Expert Committee 1986). Again, during 2002, Johl Committee submitted another report on diversification of agriculture in Punjab (Expert Committee 2002). During 2013, another diversification policy worth `7,500 crore action plan was brought by the Punjab government with emphasis on shifting 12 lakh hectares (ha) of area from water-guzzling paddy to other crops (Tribune 2013). This policy relied on the financial support from the union government for achieving the desired results in five years but could not achieve the stipulated objectives. Keeping in view the gravity of the situation created by the declining water table in Punjab, there is a need to have sincere efforts on the part of the government to undertake some concrete steps to shift the area under paddy towards other suitable alternative crops.

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Published On : 17th Jan, 2024

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