IAS Gyan

Daily News Analysis


6th October, 2023 Economy

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Picture Courtesy:  indianexpress.com

Context: Punjab's decision to ban the cultivation of the PUSA-44 paddy variety is primarily driven by concerns related to water usage, environmental factors, and stubble burning.

PUSA-44 paddy variety

  • Punjab farmers began cultivating PUSA-44 in the years following its development in 1993 by the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR).
  • Initially, it was grown in a few areas, and after experiencing high yields from the crops, farmers began increasing the area under PUSA-44 by multiplying the seed.
  • By the end of the 2010s, PUSA-44 had gained widespread popularity among farmers across Punjab, covering approximately 70 to 80% of the area under paddy cultivation.
  • In 2018, the Punjab government reduced the area under PUSA-44 to 18% of the total paddy cultivation area, but it rebounded to 22% the following year.
  • Farmers claim that PUSA-44 yields significantly higher than other varieties, with an average yield of nearly 34 to 40 quintals per acre, compared to other varieties that yield an average of 28 to 30 quintals per acre. In favourable weather conditions, many farmers can achieve even higher yields, ranging from 36 to 40 quintals per acre.

Key reasons to ban the cultivation of the PUSA-44 paddy variety

Water Depletion

PUSA-44 is a long-duration paddy variety that takes around 160 days to mature, which is approximately 35 to 40 days longer than other paddy varieties. This extended growth period requires additional irrigation cycles, putting further pressure on Punjab's already depleting groundwater resources.

Punjab faces severe groundwater depletion, and the government aims to conserve water by banning PUSA-44, which requires more irrigation.

Water-Intensive Crop

Paddy is inherently a water-intensive crop, and the area under paddy cultivation in Punjab continues to expand. This expansion exacerbates the strain on groundwater resources.

Stubble Burning

PUSA-44 aggravates the problem of stubble burning in Punjab. The extended maturity period of this variety means that it is harvested just before the ideal time for sowing wheat, which is typically on November 1st. Farmers need about 20 to 25 days between paddy harvesting and wheat sowing to manage stubble disposal properly.

The limited timeframe makes it challenging to implement stubble management techniques, leading to an increase in stubble-burning incidents.

Increased Stubble Generation

PUSA-44 varieties generate approximately 2% more stubble than shorter-duration paddy varieties. This increase in stubble volume becomes a significant concern when cultivated on a large scale, contributing to higher stubble-burning incidents.

Air Pollution

Stubble burning, combined with specific wind patterns and other factors, contributes to severe air pollution levels in northern India, especially during the winter months. The straw stubble left in the fields after the paddy harvest is burned to clear the fields quickly for planting the next season's crops, releasing pollutants into the atmosphere.

Alternative Varieties

Short-duration paddy varieties are available that require less water and have a shorter growth period. These varieties are more suitable for regions with groundwater constraints and can help reduce the risk of stubble burning due to their compatibility with the wheat sowing season.


  • To address the concerns related to water conservation, stubble burning, and environmental pollution, the Punjab government has decided to ban the cultivation of the PUSA-44 paddy variety from the next year onwards. This decision is aimed at promoting the adoption of shorter-duration paddy varieties that require less water and align better with the crop rotation schedule, reducing the incidence of stubble burning and conserving groundwater resources.

Must Read Articles:

DSR METHOD: https://www.iasgyan.in/daily-current-affairs/dsr-method

STUBBLE BURNING: https://www.iasgyan.in/daily-current-affairs/stubble-burning-29


Q. What are the key reasons behind Punjab's decision to ban the cultivation of the PUSA-44 paddy variety, and how does this decision address environmental and agricultural challenges in the region?