Slow start to delivery of in-situ stubble management machines in Punjab even as farm fires pick up steam

Published on Oct 06, 2022 01:49 AM IST

Only 7,300 machines have been delivered to farmers in Punjab against the target of 32,100 in the current season; officials say the delivery of machines got off to a slow start but would pick up pace once farmers have completed the sale of their kharif produce and have cash to pay the non-subsidised part of cost of machines.

Punjab has already logged 545 farm fires till October 5 this season. (HT Photo)
Punjab has already logged 545 farm fires till October 5 this season. (HT Photo)
By, Chandigarh

With the paddy harvest season kicking off in full swing in Punjab, the state agriculture department has started delivering machines for in-situ (mixing in the soil) management of stubble. So far, 7,300 machines have been delivered against a target of 32,100 in the current season.

Officials say the delivery of machines got off to a slow start but would pick up pace once farmers have completed the sale of their kharif produce and have cash to pay the non-subsidised part of cost of machines.

With the delivery of machines to farmers, the state government and Centre plan to control farm fires, construed as contributory factors in the formation of smog, a health and environmental hazard over north Indian states, especially national capital New Delhi.

Even though the delivery of machines has started, farm fires continue to be reported in the state. Punjab has already logged 545 farm fires till October 5.

Subsidy to be disbursed into farmers’ accounts

The Centre has allocated 245 crore for the delivery of stubble-management machines. Individual farmers are being offered a subsidy of 50% on each machine, while farmers’ groups, custom hiring centres and village panchayats are given 80% subsidy. This season, the subsidy will be disbursed into farmers’ accounts, against the previous year’s practice of giving it to the manufacturers or vendors.

In the past few years, a total of 90,422 subsidised machines have been delivered to farmers at an expenditure of 1,145 crore. The scheme, it seems, is yet to show results as farm fires continue to rage on. Last season, 71,246 incidents were reported in Punjab.

The subsidised machines provided to farmers include super-straw management system, happy seeders, super seeders, paddy-straw choppers, reversible ploughs, zero till drill, balers, rakes and shrub master, smart seeders and spatial seed drills, crop reapers, and self-propelled reaper-cum-binders.

Among all the machines, happy seeders and its latest version smart-seeder is a hot favourite among farmers. The machine supports sowing wheat as dry shoots of harvested paddy stand in the farm.

According to an estimate by the state agriculture department, paddy over 4 lakh hectares have been harvested against a total cultivated area of 30.84 lakh hectares (75.5 lakh acres), including 5 lakh hectares of (12.25 lakh acres) premium aromatic variety basmati.

“Paddy harvest is expected to pick up in a week or ten-days’ time, so is the delivery of machines,” said an officer in the state department, adding that this time, more machines are being delivered than the previous four years since the Centre started the scheme for in-situ management of crop residue and for that subsidised machines is given.

He added that wheat sowing in the state begins from October 25 and continues till the last week of November and extends into December month for late varieties.

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  • ABOUT THE AUTHOR

    Gurpreet Singh Nibber is an Assistant Editor with the Punjab bureau. He covers politics, agriculture, power sector, environment, Sikh religious affairs and the Punjabi diaspora.

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