Swaminathan for promotion of alternate land use in Punjab

Expressing concern over negative water balance in vast tract of irrigated areas of Punjab, agri expert M S Swaminathan has suggested alternate land use in the "cradle of the green revolution".

New Delhi: Expressing concern over negative
water balance in vast tract of irrigated areas of Punjab due
to indiscriminate use of pesticides and fertiliser, agri
expert M S Swaminathan has suggested alternate land use in
the "cradle of the green revolution".

"There is over-exploitation of the acquifer and nearly 70
per cent of the irrigated area in Punjab is showing a negative
water balance," Swaminathan considered as "father of the green
revolution" told agency on return from the northern state
described as "granary of the country."
Nearly 80,000 hectare of crop land in the South West
region of Punjab are affected by water logging and salination,
Swaminathan added.

"Deficiency of nitrogen, phosphorous and zinc are
affecting 66, 48 and 22 per cent of the Punjab soils
respectively," the noted farm scientist said.

Suggesting remedies, Swaminathan said the urgent task is
the promotion of appropriate changes in land use.

Over 2.7 million hectare are under rice now leading to
the unsustainable exploitation of the ground water,
Swaminathan said.

"Our immediate aim should be to find alternative land
use of about a million hectare now under rice," he said adding
this will be possible only if farmers can get income similar
to that they are earning from rice.
A possible substitute will be maize or arhar (pigeon
pea), he said.

Quality protein maize will fetch a premium price from
the poultry industry.

"Arhar being a legume will also enrich soil fertility,"
he said.

Other high value but low water requiring crops like
oilseeds can be promoted, Swaminathan said adding at the same
time there could be diversified basmati rice production in
over a million hectare land.

Swaminathan favoured setting up of a National Research
and Training centre for sustainable agriculture at Punjab
Agriculture university for initiating a land and water care
movement in the state in association with the farming
community.

PTI

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