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Why Sowing Maize In Spring Is Not A Good Choice For Punjab Farmers

Context:

As per the initial field report of the Punjab Agriculture department, around 35,000 hectares (86,450 acres) are being used for the cultivation of spring/summer maize.

  • Utilizing more area for maize cultivation is always a welcome move in a state like Punjab where maize is seen as an alternative to the water-guzzling paddy crop. But growing maize during spring is not always a good choice in Punjab.

Relevance:

GS I- Geography (Cropping patterns)

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. Why do farmers opt for sowing of spring maize in the state?
  2. Why do experts discourage sowing spring maize in the state?
  3. Which crops can be an alternative to spring maize in the state?
  4. What is cropping pattern?
  5. Rabi Crops
  6. Kharif Crops
  7. Zaid Crops

Why do farmers opt for sowing of spring maize in the state?

  • Before paddy sowing, which starts by mid-June and ends by early July, the fields of potato growers remain empty.
  • During this time, from February to mid-June, farmers prefer to grow one more crop before paddy.
  • Therefore, spring maize is a good option as it is a 120-122 days’ crop and it is also harvested by June.
  • During spring, maize of hybrid quality is grown the yield of which is very high.
  • Farmers get 90 to 100 quintals per hectare during spring, which is quite a high yield.
  • If they get a good rate, which happens rarely, and if it is at par with the MSP decided by the centre government, which is around Rs 1900 per quintal, then they can earn a huge amount due to the high yield.

Why do experts discourage sowing spring maize in the state?

  • From March to June, the temperature in the state is very high and the sunshine hours are also long.
  • The temperature starts rising from March from 35 degree centigrade to 45 degree in June.
  • Also, the average sunshine hours remain between  9 to 9.5 hours.
  • Due to high temperature, the water gets evaporated soon and frequent watering of the maize crop is needed in peak summer season. This affects the water table drastically.

Which crops can be an alternative to spring maize in the state?

  • Experts said that summer moong and sunflower crops are the best alternatives.
  • Summer moong is a 70-day crop and sunflower is a 100-day crop. While summer moong needs only 3-4 irrigations, sunflower also takes 25-30% less water than summer maize.
  • Both the crops are extremely vital in the country as India imports 2.5 million tonnes sunflower oil every year and also 2-3 million tonnes of pulses.
  • Even Punjab meets 85% of its requirement of pulses from other states. Growing pluses also improves soil health.
  • Apart from these, mash pulse, vegetables, sugarcane and green manure, which enhances the fertility of the soil, can be grown in spring.

What is cropping pattern?

Cropping pattern is basically the nature and variety of crops grown both spatially and temporally in an area or a geographical region. In spatial terms, it is what different type of crops grown in adjacent lands of a region. In temporal terms, it is the nature of crops that are taken up in a specific land over different agrarian seasons of a year (like kharif-rainy, rabi-winter, zaid-summer). It depends upon following factors:

  • Infrastructure facilities: Irrigation, transport, storage, trade and marketing, post-harvest handling and processing etc.
  • Socio-economic factors: Financial resource base, land ownership, size and type of land holding, household needs of food, fodder, fuel, fibre and finance, and labour availability etc.
  • Technological factors: Enhanced varieties, cultural requirements, mechanization, plant protection, access to information, etc.
Rabi Crops
  • Rabi crops are sown in winter from October to December and harvested in summer from April to June.
  • Some of the important rabi crops are wheat, barley, peas, gram and mustard.
  • Though, these crops are grown in large parts of India, states from the north and north-western parts such as Punjab, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Jammu and Kashmir, Uttarakhand and Uttar Pradesh are important for the production of wheat and other rabi crops.
  • Availability of precipitation during winter months due to the western Temperate Cyclones help in the success of these crops.
  • However, the success of the green revolution in Punjab, Haryana, western Uttar Pradesh and parts of Rajasthan has also been an important factor in the growth of the abovementioned rabi crops.
Kharif Crops
  • Kharif crops are grown with the onset of monsoon in different parts of the country and these are harvested in September-October.
  • Important crops grown during this season are paddy, maize, jowar, bajra, tur (arhar), moong, urad, cotton, jute, groundnut and soyabean.
  • Some of the most important rice-growing regions are Assam, West Bengal, coastal regions of Odisha, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Maharashtra, particularly the (Konkan coast) along with Uttar Pradesh and Bihar. 
  • Recently, paddy has also become an important crop of Punjab and Haryana. In states like Assam, West Bengal and Odisha, three crops of paddy are grown in a year. These are Aus, Aman and Boro.
Zaid Crops
  • In between the rabi and the kharif seasons, there is a short season during the summer months known as the Zaid season. 
  • Some of the crops produced during ‘zaid’ are watermelon, muskmelon, cucumber vegetables and fodder crops. Sugarcane takes almost a year to grow.

-Source: Indian Express

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