Haryana’s money-linked diversification drive:Area under paddy cultivation reduced by 10% in 2021
Two years after it was rolled out, the Haryana government’s financial incentive-linked diversification drive, has gained some ground with area under water-guzzling paddy reducing by 10% in 2021.
The Manohar Lal Khattar-led BJP-JJP government has set a lofty target to diversify at least one lakh acre land under paddy cultivation to crops such as pulses, cereals, cotton and maize every year to check Haryana’s rapidly deleting ground water table. Under the state’s flagship ‘mera pani- meri virasat’ policy’, farmers sowing alternative crops in place of paddy are paid ₹7,000 per acre, of which ₹2,000 is paid after first verification, and ₹5,000 at the time of harvesting.
In 2020, when the policy was first launched, Haryana first registered a 2% decrease in area under paddy production. The previous year, the state had recorded a 7% increase in the area under paddy cultivation, which rose from 36 lakh acre in 2018 to 39 lakh acre. The area under cultivation of the water guzzler came down to 38 lakh acres in 2020 and 34 lakh acres in 2021.
As per official data, during the kharif season in 2021 crop diversification took place on 51,878 acres. Oil seeds and pulses replaced bajra on 34,246 acres, while direct-seeded-rice demonstration plots covered 17,380 acres. As many as 62,562 farmers were paid ₹53.34 crore as incentive for opting for crop diversification.
The area under cultivation of non-basmati varieties also reduced by 19% last year as paddy was cultivated over 34.10 lakh acres against 38.19 lakh acres in 2020.
Additional chief secretary (agriculture and farmers’ welfare) Sumita Misra said, “Data from the last two years indicates that the diversification drive of the state government has started yielding results.”
Rice production in Haryana
Haryana produces nearly 68 lakh metric tonnes (LMT) of paddy, including around 25 LMT basmati. Basmati varieties were sown on 57% of the total area under paddy cultivation in 2021 in comparison to 53% in 2020, 58% in 2019 and 55% in 2018.
On the other hand, non-basmati varieties were sown on 16.22 lakh acres in 2019 , which rose to 18 lakh acre in 2020. It came down to 14.60 lakh acre in 2021.
Director general (agriculture) Hardeep Singh said at least 63,950 acres were diversified in 2020-21 and 51,878 acre in 2021-22.
Around ₹76 crore was paid to 74,133 farmers as incentive under the diversification drive. Around 34,246-acre land was diversified under the promotion of oil seeds and pulses in 2021-22 and 21,747 farmers were paid ₹14 crore as incentive for the same.
“A three-tiered verification has been established to ascertain the area actually diversified, after which the incentive money is released. We conduct a random and independent digitally driven verification as well. This is a rigorous exercise and there is no scope for manipulating the data,” the director general said.
Rise in pulse production
In 2020-21, the area under cultivation of crops other than wheat and paddy also increased to 52 lakh acre against 49 lakh acre in 2019-20. Pulse production increased from 64 tonne in 2019-20 to 73 tonne in 2020-21, while cereal cultivation jumped from 1,280 tonne in 2019-2020 to 1,418 tonne in 2020-21. Oil seed production also rose to 1,313 tonne in 2020-21 against 1,150 tonne the previous year.
Last year, the government linked cultivation of more varieties of pulses and cereals to the ‘mera pani, meri virasat’ policy. Additional alternate crops such as oilseeds (til, castor, groundnut), pulses like moong, arhar, moth, urd, guar and soya bean, were included. Bajra was dropped as an alternate crop from the policy. An incentive of ₹4,000 per acre was provided to farmers for promotion of oil seeds and ‘kheti khaali, fir bhi khushali’ is another feature of the crop diversification policy, under which farmers are paid ₹7,000 per acre if they do not grow any crop in their fields during the paddy season.
To avail the policy, farmers must register themselves on the ‘mera pani, meri virasat’ portal, specifying the area of land and the alternate crops they want to grow on it.
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