LAHORE: Buoyed by the success of wheat last season, Punjab has doubled the provision of subsidised certified seed for the all important staple crop of wheat this season, which is sown between October and December and harvested between April and May.
It is also set to announce more incentives to encourage farmers to grow more wheat.
A senior official of the Punjab Agriculture Department says that at least 1.2m certified wheat seed bags, each weighing 50kg, will be provided to the farmers at the subsidised rate of Rs1,500 per bag. Last year, the subsidy was provided for only 600,000 seed bags.
Dr Ishtiaq Hassan, director general (extension), tells Dawn that the government has also decided to provide one million packs of weedicide at a subsidy of Rs500 per pack to ensure the maximum yield for minimising the chances of grain import this season.
He says an added incentive a prize of 85HP tractor worth Rs4.5m will be given to the wheat grower who achieves the best per acre yield at the provincial level, second and third position holders will get 75HP and 50HP tractors worth Rs3.5m and Rs2.5m, respectively, while at district level, the top three growers will get cash prizes of Rs1m, Rs0.8m and Rs0.5m. For 10,000 demonstration plots across the province, a sum of Rs20,000 per plot has also been announced.
Last year, Punjab achieved an average per acre wheat yield of 33.1 maunds and agriculture authorities hope to take the average to 40 maunds per acre for the next crop.
To motivate the farming community and guide them to adopt good agriculture practices for achieving the yield target, more than 500 smart farmer gatherings are being planned, while 20,000 graduates from the universities will also be deployed in the campaign for growing more wheat, says Dr Hassan.
Punjab had produced 21.22 million tonnes of wheat during the crop season 2022-23 from 1.6 million acres of land. The per acre yield as well as overall production had gone up on an average by 7.3pc and 6pc as compared with the previous season (2021-22) though acreage had dropped by 1.21pc during 2022-23 as compared with 2021-22.
For the new season, Punjab has suggested to the Federal Committee on Agriculture to maintain the acreage (1.6m acres); however, the FCA is likely to increase it to 1.62m acres.
Published in Dawn, September 27th, 2023