India Punjab Nawanshar Pam Sekhon Dhaliwal family farm farming farmer Green Revolution winter wheat rice paddies harvest crop cropland tractor poplar aspen electricity electric groundwater well pump flood irrigation water food energy choke point circle of blue wilson center j. carl ganter

Punjab’s Food Producers

Before the Green Revolution of the mid-1960s, growers in northern India produced an elegant feast of native fruits, grains, and vegetables. By the 1980s, Punjab and Haryana states had together become the largest rice and wheat producers in India.

Choke Point India Circle of Blue Wilson Center water food energy nexus
Choke Point India Circle of Blue Wilson Center water food energy nexus infographic map data

PARCHH, Punab, India — Punjab means “land of five rivers,” stemming from the Persian words ‘panj,’ meaning ‘five,’ and ‘aab,’ meaning ‘water.’ The five rivers — Beas, Chenab, Jhelum, Ravi, Sutlej — are now divided between India and Pakistan. But before India’s independence from colonial rule, there was one Punjab region that encompassed both sides of the India-Pakistan border. Punjabi farmers have installed more than 1.2 million wells to irrigate their fields since the mid-1960s, and about 20,000 new wells are added annually. Thanks to thorough irrigation networks that function throughout the year, there are three growing seasons: two consecutive plantings of rice, in early spring and again in late summer, followed by a winter crop of wheat.

Click the photos below to enlarge the photo slideshow to learn more about Punjab’s grain production.

This slideshow accompanies Scarcity in a Time of Surplus: Free Water and Energy Cause Food Waste and Power Shortage in India, the second story by Keith Schneider in Circle of Blue’s Choke Point: India series. Photos by J. Carl Ganter and Aubrey Ann Parker, Circle of Blue’s director and news editor, respectively. Reach them at, or contact Keith Schneider directly.

Choke Point: India is produced in collaboration with the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars and its China Environment Forum, with support from Skoll Global Threats Fund. The Wilson Center’s Asia Program, which provided research and technical assistance, produces substantial work on natural resource issues in India, including articles and commentaries on energy, water, and the links between natural resource constraints and stability.

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