After announcement of MSP for moong: Summer moong cultivation touches 8-year high, a 42,000-acre jump from last fiscal

Summer moong cultivation in Punjab has touched an eight-year high of 96,000 acres (38,900 hectares) this year, an increase of around 42,000 acres (16,196 hectares) from the previous season.

This is quite beneficial for Punjab does not grow enough pulses to meet its consumption and thus relies on other states to make up the deficit. The state grows only 15 per cent of its total consumption. Agricultural experts said that the area being used to grow moong would have increased manifold if Punjab Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann had announced providing a Minimum Support Price (MSP) on moong before the sowing phase in April.

As per data from State Agriculture Department, Mansa district led the state in sowing moong over 25,000 acres (10,000 hectares) i.e. 25 per cent of the total area sown under this crop in the state. Followed by Moga 12,750 acres (5100 hectares) and Ludhiana 10,750 acres (4,300 hectares). The area under moong in Bathinda and Sri Muktsar Sahib districts is 9,500 acres (3,800 hectares) and 8,750 acres (3,500 hectares).

The Chief Minister has already reiterated its government’s firm commitment to purchase every grain of the moong crop with a pre-condition that they will have to sow paddy of either PR-126 variety or Basmati in the field used for moong after its harvest as both these crops take far less time for maturity and require much less water as compared to other varieties of paddy.

Bhagwant Mann also appealed to farmers to save only available natural-resource water by adopting patterns of alternative crops. To encourage the farmers to go for Direct Sowing of Rice (DSR), the state government has already announced financial assistance of Rs 1,500 per acre to them. Summer moong is a high cash value crop and its cultivation timing fits well between wheat harvesting and rice sowing in the state. This short duration crop, which takes around 60 days to grow, not only plays a vital role in improving soil health and conserving natural resources but also boosts the income of the farmers of the state.

If farmers are able to sell moong for the fixed MSP of Rs 7,275 per quintal, a 5 quintal per acre harvest can earn them nearly Rs 27,000 per acre (2.4 hectares) at a time when the fields mostly lie vacant (after the wheat harvest and before paddy sowing).

This value estimate is after taking into account expenses related to field preparation, sowing charges, seed cost, labour, insecticides and harvesting. This comes somewhere close to Rs 10,000 per acre. Not only does moong provide an additional income, but it also bears nodules on its roots that improve the nitrogen levels in the soil. Experts say that the fields where moong is sown require lesser amounts of urea fertilisers, about 25-30 kgs, per acre.

According to experts, summer moong should ideally be sown by the second week of April and completed by the third week to fetch a higher yield and protect the crop from an early monsoon in June. Agriculture experts said that in some parts of the state, summer moong has become quite popular ever since the Punjab Preservation of Sub Soil Water Act, 2009, came into force three years ago. The Act prohibits the sowing of paddy before June 10 to conserve groundwater.

Dr Gurvinder Singh, Director of Punjab Agriculture Department, said that there is a need to bring large areas under summer moong as it enhances soil fertility as well as farmers’ income. He said that this could be possible if farmers get full MSP on moong.

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