HindustanTimes Thu,17 Apr 2014

Muktsar farmers take to basmati, but await promised subsidy

Kamaldeep Singh Brar , Hindustan Times  Muktsar, October 10, 2013
First Published: 22:18 IST(10/10/2013) | Last Updated: 22:19 IST(10/10/2013)

Farmers lured into the direct sowing of basmati in district have delivered as the area under the crop has increased in the district.


However, the agriculture department has not been able to deliver the promised subsidies and benefits to those who made the shift from paddy to basmati.

The department had announced Rs. 7,500 per hectare as subsidy for direct sowing of basmati in the district for 40 clusters of 100 hectares each as incentive.

If the agriculture department is to be believed, the area under paddy cultivation in Muktsar has decreased 24% during this Kahrif season.

The area under paddy reduced from 98,117 hectares during 2012-13 to 74,500 hectares during the current season. The area under basmati has increased from 20,000 hectares to 36,000 hectares.
The scheme has been running behind schedule from the very first day and officials are still clueless, if the subsidy was supposed to be in cash or in kind.

The department had initially claimed that farmers will get subsidy in the form of assistance from the first day of the project by providing seed and weed treatment, drill machine, manure, micro-nutrients and other support.

"We have not received any guidelines yet. It is not clear how much area will be covered in subsidy and what will be its amount? We also do not know if the subsidy will be cash or indirect benefit for farmers," said Muktsar chief agriculture officer Beant Singh.

Farmers are worried because the agriculture department has not yet received a single penny to implement the scheme on the ground.

"Funds are awaited from the central government," said the agriculture officer.

On a question on whether the delay in getting the promised subsidy would impact the success of the scheme next year, he said:  "The subsidy scheme will be implemented over the next four years. The plan to promote basmati over paddy is long-term one and is for five years."

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