How crop diversification helped farmers in Punjab

Farmers from Punjab, most of whom are caught in the loop of wheat and paddy production, are spearheading an insurgency against new farm laws.

Crop diversification, though, may be a long-term solution to the crisis, as shown by the success stories of radical growers. Farmers in the Malwa region have taken the lead in growing exotic crops such as dragon fruit, figs, strawberry, and bell pepper using novel cultivation methods.

Individuals from the Mansa district are making a difference by encouraging others, but they need government assistance to help sell their products and gain higher profits.

During the early winters in Punjab's Malwa district, farms covered in poly sheets are a rare sight that piques interest. Farmers who grow strawberries and peppers use these sheets to cover the saplings at the start of the season to shield them from the cold. However, this would necessitate a significant expenditure. Farmers must order these specialized poly sheets all the way from Jaipur, which cost Rs 2,500 per quintal. On the state highway between Mansa and Bathinda, the village of Bhaini Bagha has gained popularity for its radical farmers who have taken up strawberry and pepper cultivation.

Farmers like Lakkha Singh has heavily invested into Bell Pepper Farming. He made Rs 60,000 per acre 2 years ago by selling directly to a customer who picked up the produce from his doorstep, earning him Rs 20,000 more than he did selling wheat.

"I had had enough of running around in mandis a couple of years ago, so I planted pepper instead of wheat on my 4 acres of property." I made a decent profit because all of my pepper was delivered right at my doorstep, and the customer paid quickly because there was no middleman,' he said.

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