Incentives fail to woo farmers, Punjab misses DSR target
Punjab government has missed by a huge margin its target of bringing paddy fields under the direct seeding of rice method (DSR). Against the target of 30 lakh acres (12 lakh hectares), the government has managed to bring only 1.68 lakh acres (5.6%) under DSR.
Despite announcing incentives for farmers, the Punjab government has missed by a huge margin its target of bringing paddy fields under the direct seeding of rice method (DSR). Against the target of 30 lakh acres (12 lakh hectares), the government has managed to bring only 1.68 lakh acres (5.6%) under DSR.
This even as the state continues to grapple with an alarming rate of groundwater depletion. Currently, the water table in the state is falling at a rate of 86cm per year, which means the state may be left with no underground water in the next 15 to 20 years.
The DSR method, which requires comparatively less irrigation, is being promoted by the state government with an aim to check groundwater depletion.
This year, paddy has been sown over 75.5 lakh acres (30.84 lakh hectares).
Ahead of the paddy sowing season, the government had planned to double the target area compared to last year, and set aside ₹450 crore for incentives.
Two rounds of surveys have revealed that farmers in Muktsar, Fazilka and Amritsar districts have been more forthcoming in adopting the DSR method this year as compared to other districts.
An official said that it is possible that many who have adopted the DSR method may not have registered on the government portal or followed the protocol for informing the department.
During that last kharif season (2021) DSR method was said to have been used on 15 lakh acres but officials now claim that the figures were fudged and that the actual area under direct seeding method was lower that this year.
Why low acceptance?
When contacted, Punjab Agricultural University vice-chancellor Satbir Singh Gosal said, “Growing paddy by DSR method involves adopting a new technique. Farmers are often reluctant to shift from time-test methods. Moreover, in the DSR method, a lot of weeds grow simultaneously which has to be dealt with in a timely manner. This may be another reason for low acceptance.”
“Initially there were some yield-related issues with DSR method, but now it is comparable with the traditional method,” he added. “We are working on fast-growing varieties which would germinate and take over the weeds faster, but this may take 8-10 years,” he informed.
Agriculture minister Kuldeep Singh Dhaliwal said, “We promised to give incentive and we are starting to deliver. The issue of low acceptance is to be dealt differently and in my opinion, the area would increase in the next season after incentive is delivered successfully,” said
Speaking on the incentive, agriculture director Gurvinder Singh said, “We will be giving ₹1,500 per acre to farmers who have adopted the DSR method. The amount will be directly credited into the farmers’ accounts starting tomorrow,” said. He said the total amount comes to roughly Rs. 25.34 crore.