Haryana’s crop diversification drive catching farmers’ eye

Hindustan Times, Chandigarh | By, Chandigarh:
May 30, 2020 07:57 PM IST

About three weeks after the ‘Mera Pani- Meri Virasat’ policy was launched, over 26,000 farmers have opted for the scheme till May 30.

The Haryana government’s financial incentive-linked diversification drive to encourage farmers to switch over to alternate crops in place of water guzzler paddy has started gaining the toehold.

(HT File)
(HT File)

About three weeks after the ‘Mera Pani- Meri Virasat’ policy was launched, followed by protests of the opposition Congress, other parties and a section of farmers, over 26,000 farmers have opted for the scheme till May 30.

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The agricultural land these farmers have so far registered for sowing crops such as maize (5,254 hectare), bajra (3,870 hectare), cotton (19,247 hectare) and starting horticulture in place of paddy is over 30,557 hectare, as per sources in the agriculture department.

There is no deadline for registration on the portal.

The farmers switching over to alternate crop in place of paddy will be paid 7,000 per acre incentive as the objective of this policy is to encourage farmers to cultivate alternate crops in the area that was under paddy cultivation last year.

As per the data, farmers from across the state have been registering themselves on the ‘Mera Pani- Meri Virasat’ portal, mentioning the area of the land and alternate crops they wish to grow.

The state government has promised these farmers that it will procure maize and cotton under the minimum support price (MSP). “The objective of the policy is to encourage farmers to voluntarily opt for crop diversification and become eligible for 7,000 per acre financial incentive,” a top government functionary said.

Eight paddy-rich blocks, including Ratia (Fatehabad), Siwan and Guhla (Kaithal), Pipli, Shahabad, Babain and Ismailabad (Kurukshetra) and Sirsa block of Sirsa district, where the depth of ground water level exceeds 40 meters, have been primarily included in this scheme.

The policy “advises” farmers of these eight blocks to diversify more than 50% land that was under paddy cultivation last year to become eligible for the financial incentive. There are 12 other blocks with water depth of more than 35 metres and the panchayats of these blocks own the agricultural land. The government will not give permission for paddy cultivation in such blocks to the panchayats. However, 7,500 per acre incentive amount will be given to the concerned panchayat.

As per official records, six gram panchayats had submitted a petition in the Punjab and Haryana high court challenging this policy. A two-judge bench of the high court, however, dismissed the gram panchayats case on May 28.

While marginal farmers having three acre land are eligible for 7,000 incentive by diversifying one acre land, the policy “advises” farmers using 50 HP electric motor to operate tubewells against paddy cultivation.

The crop diversification drive of the BJP-JJP coalition government comes ahead of paddy transplantation, which begins on June 15. Haryana produces near 68 lakh metric tonne (LMT) paddy, including over 25 LMT basmati. The land under paddy transplantation across the state is about 32 lakh acre.

The cultivation of paddy has contributed to degradation of natural resource such as water and soil. Also, the ground water table of Haryana has been declining steadily.


    Pawan Sharma, based in Chandigarh, is Assistant Editor in HT and presently writes on Haryana's politics and governance. During different stints over the past two decades, he covered Punjab extensively for 10 years and before that judiciary and Himachal Pradesh with focus on high-impact news breaking and investigative journalism.

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