Rice shellers force farmers to return to PAU paddy varieties

After trying paddy seed developed by universities outside Punjab, farmers are now back to using paddy varieties developed by the Punjab Agriculture University (PAU) in Ludhiana.

Paddy varieties HRK 47 and HRK 127 developed by Haryana - a big hit among farmers in Punjab - which had covered around 80 per cent of the paddy cultivation area last year, will not be sown this season, as both the state agriculture department and PUNSEED had stopped providing the seed to farmers on the recommendations of Punjab government.

The department and PUNSEED are now recommending all PAU varieties, including PR - 118, 116, 114 and 111, to the farmers.

This comes after state rice sheller owners had written to the government saying that they will not provide storage facility for HRK 47 and HRK 127 varieties after procurement of paddy in the coming season. "W" have not only informed the government that we are against HRK 47 and HRK 127 but also cautioned farmers by putting up notices in grain markets asking them not to grow these varieties. Or else, their crop will not be procured by the procuring agencies," "aid Rakesh Jain, president of Punjab Rice Sheller Association (PRSA).

"A" the time of making rice from paddy, these two varieties witness high percentage of breakage - even up to 50 per cent. Broken rice are not procured by the Food Corporation of India, resulting in huge losses to rice shellers. We have been witnessing this problem for the last couple of years," he added.

The farmers, on the other hand, feel that these varieties give high yield and consume less water.

Director (Agriculture) Dr Mangal Singh Sandhu said: "If farmers still opt for the banned varieties, they will have to do it at their own risk, as these witness high breakage problem." He also cautioned farmers against using hybrids seeds sold by private companies.

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