The Punjab on Thursday declared its massive wheat seed replacement plan, spanning a decade, to multiply it’s per acre yield by almost three times — from current just under 30 maunds up to 80 maunds.
According to departmental statistics, it has already transported over 70,000 bags and the rest 30,000 bags would be transported in next two to three days, covering all 23,800 villages in the province, and meeting the most propitious sowing deadline of Nov 30.
The seed replacement programme was necessitated as almost all seed varieties currently under usage, which cover 80 per cent of 17.20 million acres, have become susceptible to a variety of diseases, like rust.
According to Punjab Agriculture Minister Farrukh Javed, these 100,000 bags would be sufficient to produce five million bags of seed, which would replace the current seed.
The Punjab plans to take per acre yield to 100 maunds, and the programme is an effort in this regard, he said and added: “The Punjab has spared Rs300 million for the project this year, out of which Rs240 million have gone for seed procurement.”
Envisages three times rise in per acre yield
Under the programme, one progressive farmer in each village would get four bags of seed for free, and would sell multiplied seed in his village from next year.
The department has prepared a data base of around 200,000 progressive farmers for the purpose and 23,800 of them would get four bags each this year. Next year, these farmers would be replaced with another 23,800, and the department hopes to replace the entire seed in next 10 years.
The framers, while praising the move, suggest that instead of providing four bags in each village, the distribution should be linked to acreage in every village. “It would be much more efficient way of seed replacement,” says Muhammad Azam of Narowal district.
There are 811 villages in the Faisalabad district and more than 1,200 in Narowal, but the cropping area in the Faisalabad district is 755,000 acres, whereas it is 400,000 acres in Narowal. Thus the seed requirements of both differ widely, which should be factored in.
The current distribution plan averages out at 165 acres per bag. There are districts like Faisalabad where seed requirement is much more than other districts.
If the Punjab government adjusts its distribution plan according to the acreage, its replacement plan could be shortened to less than 10 years and it is better advised to reconsider the distribution pattern, he said.
“But apart from re-calculating the requirement, the seed replacement plan could, and should, only be welcomed, as it has been long overdue,” says Naeem Hotiana of Pakpattan.
Almost entire range of seeds have become susceptible to diseases and needed to be replaced in the last decade or so. “It is a case of proverbial better late than never.”
He said if the province can triple its yield, as being claimed by the minister, it could easily spare huge acreage for diversification for other crops like vegetable and pulses.
Published in Dawn,