Moga, March 7
Russian invasion of Ukraine has put the spotlight back on the cultivation of oilseeds instead of wheat and paddy in the state.
At present, India imports 1,371 million dollars worth of sunflower oil from Ukraine every year.
The agro-scientists and policy makers had long been advocating this shift to save underground water, check menace of stubble burning and retain soil fertility.
BV Mehta, executive director, Solvent Extractors’ Association of India (SEA), said, “It is the need of the hour to shift cultivation to soya-sunflower-maize in kharif season and rapeseed in rabi season.”
“The Centre must include mustard, groundnut, sunflower and soyabean in the edible oil mission and allocate at least Rs 5,000 crore per annum, which will help narrow the gap between domestic demand and production of edible vegetable oils,” said Mehta.
Dr Harpreet Kaur, Joint Director (statistical wing), Agriculture Department, said, “During rabi season, farmers in Punjab had grown oilseeds (taramira and sarson) on 53,900 hectares. Oilseeds were grown on 33,000 hectares in 2020-2021.”
Interestingly, when Green Revolution was given a push in this agrarian state, the area under mustard and rapeseed crops was more than 1 lakh hectare. It was 1.06 lakh hectare in 1960-61, 1.03 lakh hectare in 1970-71, 1.46 lakh hectare in 1980-81, 69,000 hectare in 1990-91, 1.02 lakh hectare in 1995-96, 53,000 hectare in 2000-01, 31,000 hectare in 2010-11 and 31,000 hectare in 2015-16.
A couple of years ago, former Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh had asked the Agriculture Department officials to increase the area under oilseed, particularly canola. He had asked officials to facilitate farmers with subsidy on seeds and setting up drip irrigation system. Even Markfed was asked to assist farmers in marketing of the oilseeds.
Dr Jaswinder Singh Brar, Agriculture Scientist, advocated the cultivation of hybrid oilseed crops to get good yield. The hybrid variety, including GSC-7 developed by Punjab Agricultural University, gives a yield of at least 10 quintal per acre, he said.
Sukhdev Singh, a progressive farmer of Khosa Randhir Singh village, and Jassa Singh of Dhalleke village asked the government to purchase oilseeds at assured minimum price through the government agencies, provide subsidies on purchase of quality seeds and setting-up of drip irrigation system to push for diversification.
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