Why Punjab wants to ban the cultivation of PUSA-44 paddy variety

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Source: The post is based on the article “Why Punjab wants to ban the cultivation of PUSA-44 paddy variety published in “Indian Express” on 10th October 2023

What is the News?

Punjab Chief Minister has announced that the state will ban the cultivation of the PUSA-44 paddy variety from 2024.

When did Punjab farmers begin cultivating PUSA-44?

PUSA-44 is a variety of paddy.It was developed in 1993 by the Delhi-based Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR). 

Subsequently, Punjab’s farmers started sowing it in a few areas initially.After getting a high yield from the crops, they started increasing the area under PUSA-44 by multiplying the seed.

By the end of 2010s, it had gained widespread popularity among farmers across the Punjab, covering approximately 70 to 80% of the area under paddy cultivation.

By 2018, the Punjab government reduced the area under PUSA-44 to 18% of the total area under paddy, but it rebounded to 22% in 2022.

What are the reasons behind the ban of PUSA-44?

Extended Maturity Period: PUSA-44 takes about 160 days to mature, which is much longer (about 35-40 days) than other paddy varieties.

Water Conservation: Punjab is facing severe groundwater depletion and banning PUSA-44 is a measure to conserve irrigation water.

Stubble Burning: PUSA-44 is harvested right before the ideal time for wheat sowing which is around November 1st.

– Farmers typically need 20 to 25 days between paddy harvesting and wheat sowing to effectively handle stubble disposal. 

– However, PUSA-44’s late harvest makes it difficult to manage stubble through both in-field and out-of-field methods.This leads to more incidents of stubble burning. 

– Moreover, PUSA varieties produce about 2 percent more stubble compared to shorter varieties, which is a significant concern when cultivated extensively.

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