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Punjab's Agricultural Department Trying to Reduce Usage of Pesticides on Basmati Crop

An important decision regarding how to limit the use of insecticides and pesticides on the basmati crop will be made at a meeting between representatives of the Punjab agriculture department, PAU scientists, and basmati exporters.

Chintu Das
Basmati Rice
Basmati Rice

The Punjab agriculture department is searching for alternate ways to decrease farmers' use of insecticides and pesticides on the premium rice crop and improve its acceptance in the global market as the sowing of the aromatic basmati is about to come to an end.

The harvest season for basmati rice is from October to November, and the state department and PAU are anticipated to issue a warning over the use of alternative substances to combat unwanted weeds, pests, and insects that are attacking the crop.

Director of Agriculture Gurvinder Singh stated, "We have taken it as a task to fight against the utilization of agrochemical compounds and cut their consumption to a minimum.

He said that on Monday, all officers, PAU experts, and basmati exporters would gather to make a final decision on how to lessen the use of insecticides and pesticides on the basmati crop.

Due to its distinctive aroma and long grain, Punjab's basmati is popular in other nations, such as North America, Europe, and the Middle East. Nearly 40% of India's 40,000 crore in basmati exports come from this state.

However, in the past, certain shipments of basmati rice that were exported to foreign nations were turned away because insecticide traces were discovered on them.

In order to prevent premium aromatic basmati paddy from being rejected on the global market, the state government had recommended to restrict 10 agro-chemical compounds (pesticides, insecticides, and weedicides) in June.

Other agricultural chemicals on the banned list include acephate, buprofezin, chlorpyrifos, methamidophos, propiconazole, thiamethoxam, profenofos, and isoprothiolane in addition to the two agricultural chemicals tricyclazole and carbendazim.

A senior officer of the agriculture directorate stated, "We have developed a case and handed it to the government for a ban; hopefully a decision will be decided in the coming week."

According to the Center's Insecticide Act of 1968, a state government may establish a ban for 60 days, after which it is automatically lifted. The Centre's Ministry of Fertilizer has the authority to impose a permanent ban.

The officer responded, "If necessary, we may extend the prohibition for 60 additional days."

The department is aiming to grow basmati to above 5 lakh hectares this year, up from the 4.38 lakh hectares that were planted in the premium crop during the previous kharif season. As of now, 4.75 lakh hectares have been planted. A 30 lakh hectare area is planted with paddy.

In the upcoming season, basmati prices are anticipated to soar due to the continuing Russia-Ukraine war. Due to the price crash in 2020, it was sold at the minimum support price offered on the coarse variety paddy distributed through the public distribution system. It was sold between Rs 3,000 and Rs 4,000 per quintal during the previous season (2021).

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