The government has given Rs 1.5 crore to Muktsar to promote direct sowing of basmati. In contrast, Faridkot has received Rs 15 lakh to promote direct sowing of rice and has got nothing for basmati, something that has led the farmers to wonder whether areas in the CM's constituency are being favoured at their expense.
However, Muktsar has a much bigger area than Faridkot. Still, the incentives seem disproportionate to the areas. Muktsar has been granted incentive for about 20 clusters at Rs 7,500 per hectare. The money will be used to provide pesticides, insecticides, micronutrients, zinc sulphate and about 50% subsidy on spray pumps.
"We are trying our best to promote basmati in the district. Farmers have also given us an enthusiastic response. The area under basmati has increased," said Muktsar chief agriculture officer Beant Singh.
"Basmati is a good and viable option. It also helps in saving water. The area under paddy has decreased to 74,000 hectares from about 1 lakh hectares last year. Basmati is now grown on 36,000 hectare from 15,000 hectares last year. We want to bring an additional 10,000 hectares under basmati from next year. Farmers also want to grow cotton," he added.
The area under Guar has also seen an increase to 8,000 hectares from 7,000 hectares last year.Faridkot farmers have not been granted any subsidy for basmati growers, even as some of the farmers have been enthusiastic about the product and have also taken to direct sowing technique.
The area under basmati is also expected to increase to 7,000 hectares from 1,200 hectares this year.
"We have been granted Rs 15 lakh to promote direct sowing of rice in the district for two clusters, one each in Kotkpara and Faridkot block, with 100 hectares each," said Faridkot chief agriculture officer Sukhwant Singh Sran.
The incentives include insecticides, weedicide, micronutrients, zinc sulphate and spray pumps on subsidised rates. Sran added that the department had also distributed literature to promote DSR.
"The grant is only for rice. We hope to get another Rs 7 lakh for basmati soon," the agriculture officer added.
"Faridkot adjoins Muktsar. We should also have been provided some incentive for growing basmati. The climatic conditions are similar to Amritsar. Many farmers have also applied DSR technique here, but they have been left to fend on their own," said Chamkaur Singh, a farmer from Birsikhanwala village.