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Wheat sowing takes a hit in protesting farmers’ States

Farmers from MP, Maharashtra who are not protesting have sown more crops

With the farmers protesting at the Delhi/NCR borders against the three new farm laws, wheat cultivation back home in their States of Punjab, Haryana and Rajasthan has taken a hit in the current rabi season.

States like Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra, from where not many farmers have participated in the protests, have sown more wheat or rabi crops this year. As per Agriculture Ministry data, the area under wheat cultivation is down by 60,000 hectare in Punjab, 1.2 lakh hectare in Haryana and 2.25 lakh hectare in Rajasthan so far.

Data showed that total wheat cultivation in Punjab was at only 33.3 lakh hectare so far in the current rabi season as against 33.9 lakh hectare last year. Similarly, Haryana has reported wheat cultivation in only 22.04 lakh hectare against the 23.06 lakh hectare last year. Rajasthan has reported 25.05 lakh hectare under wheat cultivation as compared to the 27.29 lakh hectare last year, a reduction of 2.25 lakh hectare.

Wheat is the biggest rabi (winter sown) crop of Punjab and is the biggest contributor of the food grain to the national buffer stock. Wheat is expected to be sown over nearly 35 lakh hectares in Punjab with an output target of nearly 170 lakh tonnes. Normally, wheat sowing starts in the last week of October in the State.

Interestingly, in absence of adult males, women have taken the charge of irrigating fields, sprinkling fertilisers in them, tending cattle, milking cows and chopping fodder for them with their children’s help, while keeping their spouses and adult sons assured all the while not to worry about the chores back home and focus on their protests.

According to the Agriculture Ministry, area sown to wheat, the main rabi crop, has increased marginally by 2.53 per cent to 254.73 lakh hectares so far in the ongoing 2020-21 rabi season from 248.44 lakh hectares in the year-ago period. Total area under all rabi crops remained higher by 3.87 per cent at 507 lakh hectares so far this rabi season as against 488 lakh hectares in the year-ago period.

Madhya Pradesh reported higher areas ( 4.55 lakh hectare), followed by Gujarat ( 2.34 lakh hectare) and Maharashtra ( 2.12 lakh hectare)”, the data showed. The data showed farmers from those States who have not participated in the ongoing protests have planted more in the rabi season.

Rabi sowing begins from October while harvesting from March onwards. Besides wheat, gram and mustard are other main rabi crops. “Overall trend of rabi sowing progress is very good. Increased area coverage has been recorded under wheat, pulses and oilseeds including rapeseed and mustard,” officials of the Ministry said.

As per the Ministry’s latest data, area sown to pulses rose 9.10 per cent to 130.59 lakh hectares as on December 11 of this rabi season from 119.70 lakh hectares in the same period last year. Area sown to oilseeds also increased by 7 per cent to 73.79 lakh hectares from 68.93 lakh hectares in the said period. However, area sown to rice was lower by 6 per cent to 10.47 lakh hectares so far this rabi season as against 11.13 lakh hectares a year ago.

Similarly, area sown to coarse cereals remained lower by 6.20 per cent to 37.43 lakh hectares as against 39.90 lakh hectares in the said period.

Monday, 14 December 2020 | Rajesh Kumar | New Delhi

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