LAHORE  - In the wake of wheat shortage and growing demand of rice, 4.5 million acres of land has been brought under paddy cultivation in Punjab compared to 4.3 million acres last year, an increase by 10 percent. Agriculture department sources told APP here Thursday that 85 percent basmati of various varieties including Basmati Super, Basmati 2000 and Basmati 385 was sown in Punjab this year while 15 percent of the crop consists of other varieties of rice including IR-6, KSM 282, KSK 133 and Nayab IRRI-9. The break-up of rice growing districts monitored and tabulated by the department shows that rice crop has been cultivated over 235,000 acres in Narowal, 300,000 acres in Hafizabad, 470,000 acres in Sialkot,465,000 acres in Sheikhupura, 600,000 acres in Gujranwala, 252,000 acres in Nankana Sahib, 226,000 acres in Mandi Bahauddin and 246,000 acres in Okara, besides nominal crop in Faisalabad, Kasur and Lahore. About 3.5 million tons of rice produce is expected this year if the climate remains conducive. Growers of Punjab make good of substantial rain by focussing on rice crop which flourishes in rain-fed areas. Rice experts have declared the crop, as reported by the field staff "satisfactory" in the initial stage but a healthier aspect is that there is little chance of any pest attack. The chances of any pest attacking rice crop become favourable if dry weather persists, an expert of the agriculture department told APP. There is no risk of leaf roller worm attack during current season. The department has received some reports on leaf roller worm and "blight virus" from some areas but it says its pest scouting teams in every district are vigilant and monitoring the situation to nip the diseases in the bud. Rice growers have been advised to be in contact with agriculture department in case of any pest attack on their crop and follow the advice of its experts to save the crop from harm's way.