The Punjab government has undertaken a pilot project under which residue-free basmati crop has been cultivated in Chogawan block in Amritsar district, state agriculture minister Gurmeet Singh Khudian said on Sunday.
Residue-free practice entails minimal or no usage of chemicals.
The initiative is aimed at promoting organic farming in the state as desired by Chief Minister Bhagwant Singh Mann, said the minister.
The Chogawan block is popular for growing quality basmati rice.
“Basmati rice has a great export potential as most of the grains produced in the region are being exported to the European and Middle-Eastern countries,” said Khudian, while adding that presently, basmati rice is exported to more than 60 countries.
Amritsar district alone contributed rice exports of around Rs 9,000 crore last year, he added.
To increase the export potential of basmati rice from Punjab, Khudian stated that the state agriculture department has also launched an awareness campaign to sensitise farmers about the judicious use of pesticides for basmati crop, besides, making them aware regarding use of alternative pesticides rather than banned pesticides.
As many as 10 insecticides or fungicides have been banned for application on the basmati crop, he added.
The minister said the Chogawan block has a total area of 32,000 hectares of cultivated area. Of this, 28,753 hectares are covered under the paddy crop including 25,000 hectares of the basmati crop.
Out of the total 102 villages, 42 villages of the block have been selected under the project, he said.
Main cultivated varieties in the block are PUSA basmati 1718, PUSA basmati 1121, PUSA basmati 1885, PUSA basmati 1509, PUSA basmati 1692 and Punjab basmati-7.
The staff of the agriculture department posted at Chogawan block has been pressed into service to reach out to all the farmers at all the selected villages to register them online on the portal of the Agricultural and Processed Food Products Export Development Authority (APEDA).
As many as 3,691 farmers have been shortlisted after the door-to-door survey conducted by the department.
As many as 38 ‘kisan mitras’, three supervisors and eight field supervisors are regularly visiting the fields and sensitizing farmers about export quality basmati.