Farmers lured into the direct sowing of basmati in this district may not get the complete reward for the initiative they have been expecting from the agriculture department.The scheme has been running behind schedule and is sure to make a dent in the subsidy the farmers have been expecting.
The agriculture department had announced Rs 7,500 per hectare subsidy for direct sowing of basmati in the district for 20 clusters of 100 hectares each to encourage farmers. It was not said if the subsidy would be direct or indirect.
However, now it has come to the fore that there is no cash subsidy for farmers and it will be in the form of assistance.
Agriculture development officer Mukhtiar Singh said, "According to the scheme, farmers will get subsidy in the form of assistance from the very first day. It will be in the form of seed and weed treatment, drill machine, manure, micro-nutrients and other support as part of subsidy at the initial stage. We will make the lists of the beneficiary clusters next week."
Interestingly, the nature of the scheme requires identification of the beneficiary clusters in advance. However, the agriculture department will make the lists of the beneficiary clusters after the farmers sow basmati. The delay in the implementation of the scheme is sure to dent the benefits expected by farmers to keep the crop input price low.
What is more worrying for the farmers is that the agriculture department has not received a single penny yet to implement the scheme on the ground and officials are still reading the clauses of the scheme.
The delay in implementing the scheme would also hurt its further implementation. Initial estimates of the agriculture department have calculated that the total area under direct sowing of basmati may cross 2,000 hectares and all farmers would not be able to get the announced benefits.
Area under paddy decreased
The area under paddy cultivation in Muktsar district has decreased by 24%. Deputy commissioner Paramjit Singh said the area under paddy was 98,117 hectares during 2012-13 while it was reduced to only 74,500 hectares during the current cropping season. The area under basmati has increased from 20,000 hectares to 36,000 hectares this year.
Similarly, the area under cotton also increased from 88,298 hectares to 92,600 hectares whereas the area under moong increased from 400 hectares to 5,500 hectares.