Pre and post harvest losses: farm level estimates for paddy cultivation in Punjab

The present study makes a comprehensive attempt to estimate the dimension of losses occurring during the pre and post harvest stages of paddy crop. For the purpose, required primary data were collected from 120 paddy growing farmers of various farm size categories from Ludhiana and Ferozepur districts. The results of the study based on farmers’ perceptions revealed that the individual production loss due to incidence of pests (rice stem borer, leaf folder and plant hoppers), diseases (bacterial leaf blight, sheath blight and false smut) and weeds (Echinochloa crusgalli) was less than 5 per cent of the total production with more severity of pests. The losses due to biotic stresses in case of paddy increased with an increase in farm size, except on marginal farms, the loss per acre being a minimum of 6.07 per cent on small and 8.94 per cent on large farm category. The total magnitudes of crop losses due to biotic stresses were 8.68 per cent over actual and 7.99 per cent over normal production. The loss due to major pests, diseases and weeds was low due to the efficient crop management by the farmers as well as varietal characteristics and timely application of weedicides/ pesticides/ fungicides. Both early and late harvesting of paddy was reported as harmful resulting in higher yield loss. The post harvesting losses such as transportation, handling and rodents attack in case of stored grains was found to be negligible. Total post harvest losses were calculated as 3.674 kg per quintal on medium farm category which were lowest while on marginal farm category these came out to be 6.023 kg per quintal which were highest on all the farm categories. The total post harvest losses in paddy crop worked out to be 4.43 kg per quintal and 122.38 kg per acre with major loss due to decline in weight as revealed by the sample respondents. The transportation losses were
minimal due to the mechanized transport facility of tractor- trolley available with each sample respondent. The major policy issues suggested were; check on prices of various inputs used in paddy cultivation along with further subsidization to decrease cost of production, rejuvenation of govt. extension agencies for curtailing the dependence of farmers on private input dealers for expert advice to solve farm related problems and timeliness and supervision of paddy harvesting as a key to lower the harvesting losses in case of paddy crop.