CHANDIGARH: Punjab farmers are being urged to switch to the early-maturing varieties of paddy which need less water and leave lighter stubble in the fields after harvest.

“We are promoting short-duration paddy varieties developed by Punjab Agriculture University over late-maturing PUSA varieties that require more water and leave heavier stubble,” BS Bains, director, Punjab Agriculture Department, told ET.

On PUSA-44 variety, he said, “It increases menace of air pollution as the stubble is heavier than the short-duration varieties.”

The state agriculture department is promoting PR 126, a short-duration variety developed by Punjab Agriculture Department. The PR 126 attains height of 102 cm and matures in 123-125 days. The variety is resistant to seven different bacterial blight pathogens and yields 30 quintals of paddy per acre.

Earlier, the Punjab Pollution Control Board had issued a notification to delay by five days sowing of paddy, under the Punjab Preservation of Sub-Soil Water Act, 2009. This year the board has said sowing of nursery should not be before May 20 and transplantation of the crop should be done after June 20.

Groundwater depletion in Punjab is alarmingly high due to widespread exploitation of groundwater for growing paddy. Usually, paddy, a key kharif crop, is sown over 29-30 lakh hectares in the state. This year the area under paddy is likely to witness an increase as farmers had earned higher remuneration in the last paddy season.

To promote diversification, the state government is encouraging farmers to shift to other crops including cotton, maize and pulses.

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