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Reference: Punjab-The Leader in Agricultural Sector, Agriculture Today, 2013, page (40-43)

The first known mention of the word ‘Punjab’ is in the writings of ibneBatuta, who visited this most fertile region in the 14th century. However, in the great epic of Mahabharata, the Sanskrit equivalent of Punjab is narrated as Pancha-nada (country of five rivers). The name Punjab is again mentioned in Aine-e-Akbari(Part-I), written by AbulFazal. The Mughal King Jahangir also mentions the word Punjab in Tuzk-i-Jahangiri. Punjab in Persian literally means ‘Panj’ (five) and ‘ab’ (waters) i.e. the land of five rivers, referring to the five rivers which run through it.


Punjab is one of the most fertile regions on Earth. The region is ideal for growing wheat, rice, sugarcane, fruits and vegetables. Indian Punjab is called the “Granary of India” or India’s bread-basket. It produces 20% of India’s wheat and 9% of India’s rice. On a global scale, this represents 3% of the world’s production of these crops, so the Indian Punjab produces 2% of the world’s cotton, 2% of its wheat and 1% of world’s rice. The largest grown crop is wheat; however, other important crops are rice, cotton, sugarcane, pearl millet, maize, barley, and fruits.

The principal crops of Punjab are barley, wheat, rice, maize and sugarcane. Among the fodder crops are bajra and jowar. The main sources of irrigation are canals and tube wells. The economy of the state primarily depends upon agriculture sector.

Sharing his views with AGRICULTURE TODAY on agriculture status in Punjab, Mangal Singh Sandhu, Director- Agriculture of Punjab, termed the economy of Punjab as prosperous owing to its constantly high agricultural yields. Referring to 2008 Global Hunger Index, Sandhu said that Punjab has the lowest level of hunger in India. He described Punjab to have the best infrastructure in India; this includes road, rail, air and river transport links that are extensive throughout the region. Punjab also has the lowest poverty rate in India at 6.16% (1999-2000 figures), and has won the best State Performance Award, based on statistical data compiled by the Indian Government.

Sandhu recalled the establishment of the Department of Agriculture back in British period and first set of rules were framed in the year 1933. The head of the Agriculture Department is director and is presently headquartered at Chandigarh. He acts as Agriculture Advisor to the state of Punjab in addition to his responsibilities of planning, organizing, executing and supervising the techniques of production programmes. However the first and the foremost duty of the director is to increase the agricultural production of the state and to assist in the contributing a major portion of the food grains to the central pool, with the view to make the country self sufficient. The director of agriculture also helps in framing marketing policies. He also advises the government in respect to agro-based industries. He also monitors the input supplies like seeds, fertilizers, insecticides, pesticides. Irrigation, power, diesel, etc. The Director has four sections under him, i.e.

      I.        Administration

    II.        Engineering

   III.        Hydro-geology.

  IV.        Statistics.

All the above sections are supervised by respective joint directors.

Sandhu pointed out that the traditional marketing of crops, fruits and vegetables is unfavourable for farmers as a major share of consumer money is pocketed by traders and middleman. Farmers get low price of their produce, whereas the consumers have to pay a higher price for poor quality of products in the market. To address this situation, Punjab State Marketing Board was established as farmers’ market with the view to give boost to small farmers across the cities so as to provide direct access to the consumers by eliminating the middlemen. It is also known as ‘ApniMandi’ because it belongs to both farmers and consumers who can mutually help each other.

Sandhu further said that the offices of different departments of Punjab government relating to Agriculture at Sub divisional Headquarters were not concentrated at one place and farmers had to shuttle from one corner of the town to other. Hence the Board has initiated a scheme for construction of VikasBhawans at all sub-divisional headquarters.

The work on 18 such VikasBhawans has already been completed at a cost of Rs.411, 86 lakh. These VikasBhawans had been constructed with a view to house offices related to farmers under one roof at Ajnala, Tarantaran, Patti, FAzilka, Abohar, Nabha, Malerkotla, Batala,Phagwara, Zira, Barnala, Gurdaspur, Ludhiana, Muktesar, etc. The department of agriculture, horticulture, soil conservation, animal husbandry, food and civil supplies, fisheries, Food Corporation of India, Marked and Puns up are planned to have their administrative office located in each of their complexes.

Sandhu however lamented that the farmers are facing the problems of not getting loans for mechanization and labour saving devices. He was of the view that Animal driven and hand-pulled carts must be highly subsidized. Organic farmers must get a good amount of subsidy per acre.


Punjab has the best infrastructure in the whole of India and as a result it is attracting a lot of foreign companies who are looking for their bases and manufacturing zones for their Indian operations. The Indian National Council of Applied Economic Research (NCAER) has ranked Punjab’s infrastructure as the best in India.

Its road, rail, air and transport system is rated as the best in the country. All major cities in Punjab benefit from this and have some of the highest tariffs in India.

All of Punjab’s villages have got electricity and are connected to the state electrical power grid since 1974.

  • Total road network 47,605 Kms.
  • All cities connected by National Highway.
  • All major towns of adjoining states are connected by National Highway.
  • 97% of villages are connected by metalled roads.
  • National Highways in Punjab are 1000 Kms. Long.
  • State Highways are 2126 kms.
  • Major district roads are 1799 kms.
  • Other district roads are 3340 kms.
  • Link roads are 31657 kms.


The sugar mills in Punjab are located in Batala, Gurdaspur, Bhogpur, Phagwara, Nawanshahar, Zira, Morinda, Pakhra, Dhuri, Fazilka, Nakodar, Dasna, Badhewal, TArantaran, Ajnala, Faridkot, Jagraon, etc.

One of the salient features of the sugar industry in Punjab is that out of the 14 mills, 12 are cooperative sugar mills and one at Morinada is the biggest in the state with a daily crushing capacity of 4,000 tons of sugarcane.


The primary source of milk and other dairy products in the state is buffalo. The state ranks the top in the country in the availability of milk after Haryana and Gujarat. The milk plants are mainly located at Virka, (Amritsar), Ludhiana, Mohali, Jalandhar, Patiala, Hoshiarpur, Gurdaspur, Ferozpur, Sangrur, Bhatinda, Faridkot, Nabha, Moga and Hamira. The plant at Moga is the biggest in the state with a processing capacity of nearly 435 thousand litres’ of milk.

Sandhu highlighted the Punjab’s achievements during the financial year 2012-13:-

State with only 1.5% of country’s total geographical area produced 19% of wheat; 11% rice and 5% of cotton out of country’s total produce.

State which has earned the name of “Granary of India” has been contributing 35-40% of rice; 45-70% of wheat to central pool.

State produces 2% of rice, 3% wheat and 2% cotton, out of the total global produce.

State has highly irrigated area i.e. 98% and highest cropping industry i.e. 189%

The state has been adjudged 1st in Agriculture Extension Services Continuously from 2003-04 to 2006-07 and has been awarded National Productivity Award by National Productivity Council.

NFSM-Best Performance award 2008-09, was conferred under Wheat crop [in north western Region.

Krishi Karman Award 2010-11 was conferred under Total Food Grain category among states with productivity of 10 million ton.

The state surpassed all previous records in wheat production during Rabi 2011-12.


  • Geographical area- 5033 hectares.
  • Forest area- 295 hectares.
  • Land not available for cultivation- 528 hectares.
  • Total cropped area- 7875 hectares.
  • Area under cultivation-  83%
  • Cropping intensity- 189%

Extension Reforms in India were pilot tested in 28 districts of the states under Innovations in Technology dissemination (ITD) Component of World Bank funded National Agricultural Technology Project (NATP) during the period from November, 1998 to April, 2005. This successful experiment served as a basis to launch the scheme, “support to state extension programmes for extension reforms” in its first phase since 2005-06. The scheme was later up-scaled to 250 districts during the 10th plan.

The resolution made by the National Development Council (NDC) in the year 2007 highlighted the need for revamping and strengthening the extension system to provide for exploring the skill levels of the farming community and harnessing the potential of ICT in villages. The National Policy for farmers, 2007 (NPF)

envisaged support to state governments for strengthening the extension machinery through retraining and re-tooling of existing extension personnel. The NPF also stressed on promoting farmer-to farmer learning by setting-up Farm schools in the fields for selected farmers who could lead by example.

In Punjab, the Extension Reforms were already tested in the 4 districts of Gurdaspur, Jalandhar, Sangram and Faridkot under World Bank aided, “national Agriculture Technology Project” (NATP) on pilot basiswef. 1998 to 30-06-05. This project was implemented in Punjab in the selected 4 districts in a phased manner through Agriculture Technology Management Agency (ATMA), a registered autonomous society under the chairmanship of Concerned Deputy Commissioner. After the closing of NATP project, NATP model was being implemented by the GOI through the centrally sponsored scheme: “Support to State Extension Programme for Extension Reforms” in 4 old ATMA districts and 4 new districts namely Amritsar, Ferozpur, Patiala and Ropar during 10th plan. Later on GOI has approved 2 more districts namely Mohali and TaranTaranfor inclusion due to bifurcation of Amritsar, Patiala and Ropar districts. During 2007-08, ten remaining districts have also been included. This scheme has come up to the expectations of farming community in disseminating need based and timely information. Now the Modified Extension Reform scheme is being implemented in all the districts of the state.


Dr. Lajvinder Singh Brar, Director-Horticulture, informed that Punjab lies in North-West corner of the country with subtropical climate having 400-1000 mm annual rainfall concentrated in the months of July-October & soil pH ranges of 7.5-8.5. Being predominantly an agricultural state and called the granary of India, it is known for quick adoption of new technologies. With shrinking profits in the post green revolution era, the state has recently started shifting swiftly to its value segment horticulture with 3.4% and 8.4% of value of agriculture produce.

However in the liberal regime, stiff global competition in the domestic market has necessitated quality horticulture production at minimal costs. It calls for standardizing latest technologies as per State’s agro climatic conditions and transferring these to farmers’ fields for a horticulture revolution. A big scope exists for productivity and quality improvements at minimal costs. Under NHM, Punjab has created 254 water storage tanks for judicious use of water by drip systems. Under Indo-Israel bilateral agreement with aforementioned background, the three following centers of Excellence have been proposed:-

  • Centre of Excellence for vegetables, at Jalandhar.
  • Centre of Excellence for Citrus , at Hoshiarpur.
  • Centre of Excellence for utilization of Brackish Water for fruits and vegetables production in South-Western Punjab.

The objectives behind such centres are:-

  • To standardize & demonstrate sustainable horticulture crop production technologies making such produce globally competitive.
  • To increase profitability of farmers per unit area & time.
  • To generate productive employment opportunities.


About the development of fisheries in Punjab, B.K. Sood, the Director-Fisheries said that in south-Western districts of Punjab, a large area of land is affected by soil salinity and water logging. More than 1 lakh hectare of land in these districts has become completely unfit for agriculture. The owners of these lands, the once prosperous farmers, have now become Paupers. So, they have been compelled to do labour the adjoining cities. This calamity has developed a suicidal trend amongst the owners of this land.

The saline and water logged land in the South-Western districts of Punjab has become a zero earning land. The only remedy to make use of this land is Fish farming. The project of fish farming here will not only be in the interest of farmers but also in the National Interest felt B.K.Sood.

Rapid increase of population, occurrence of malnutrition and necessity for optimum use of natural resources have brought the tremendous pressure to develop low technologies to grow food from resources which have not been extensively used so far. There is an urgent need to provide the much needed balanced nutritious animal protein in the form of fish for easing out the acute problems of malnutrition and un-employment. The main objective of the project will be the development of the zero-earning saline affected and waterlogged land in the aforesaid districts.

Fishery has an important place in the socio-economic development of the country and has been recognized as a powerful source of income and employment, besides a source of low cost nutritious food.

According to Director- Fisheries, currently Punjab’s 11000 hectare area is under fish culture are around 7500 fish farmers. Punjab’s fish farmers have transformed the concept of industrial fisheries into reality. Besides earning a net profit of more than 2 lakh per hectare per year from fish farming, they are using their fish pond fertile water as source of assured irrigation for the agricultural fields for cost effective agricultural produce. They have also earned a place in the fisheries map of our country by achieving the highest average per hectare food production of 2500 kg by adopting improved technologies.

There exist more than one hectare area in the South-Western districts of Punjab which is affected by salinity/ sodicity and water logging. This zero-earning saline affected waterlogged land can profitably be utilized for fish farming as well as a deterrent measure to stop the suicidal trend in the area.

Sood further informed that the fish farming possibilities in this area were explored by the scientists of Central Institute of Fresh Water Aquaculture, Bhubaneswar (Orissa ) and Punjab Agriculture University, Ludhiana, under a pilot project. Subsequently trial demonstrations for fish farming in the zero-earning land were conducted during the last few years by the Fisheries Department for Carp Culture. It has been observed that farmers have earned a handsome amount-a net profit of Rs.20-30 thousands per acre from their saline affected land. So, ample opportunities seem to be feasible that fish farming in this belt can prove to be a strong measure of welfare and development, besides easing out the problems pertaining to suicides and malnutrition.



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