Chandigarh: In a bid to promote organic farming, the Punjab government has undertaken a pilot project under which residue-free basmati rice – entailing minimal or no usage of chemicals – has been cultivated in the Chogawan block of Amritsar district.
Punjab Agriculture Minister Gurmeet Singh Khudian said they have purposely chosen the Chogawan block to carry out this pilot project as it is falls in the Ravi river basin and having favourable climatic conditions to nurture the most aromatic long grain basmati rice making it export quality produce.
“Basmati rice has a great export potential as most of the basmati produced in the region is being exported to European and Middle Eastern countries,” he said.
Presently, the basmati rice has been exported to more than 60 countries, of which, Amritsar district alone exported Basmati rice around Rs 9,000 crore in the past year.
In order to increase the export potential of the basmati, Khudian said the Agriculture and Farmers Welfare Department has 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.
Ten insecticides and fungicides have been banned for application on the basmati crop.
The minister said the Chogawan block has around 32,000 hectares cultivated area, of which 28,753 hectares is covered under the paddy crop and 25,000 hectares solely under the basmati crop.
Out of 102 villages, 42 villages of the block have been selected under the project, he said. The 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.