Tribune News Service
Chandigarh, June 8
In response to the Haryana Government’s efforts to decrease acreage of paddy in view of the depleting water table, 49,674 farmers have agreed to sow alternative crops like maize, bajra, cotton and pulses on 54,881 hectares.
Of these, 6,838 farmers with 6,934 hectares are from the eight blocks where the water table has gone below 40 metres. “The figure is likely to go up to 60,000 hectares by the time sowing begins,” said Sanjeev Kaushal, Additional Chief Secretary, Agriculture and Farmers Welfare.
The scheme launched by the government this year had three components. The first component was for eight blocks, where the water table had dropped to 40 metres or more.
Paddy is grown on 1,79,951 hectares in these blocks. The government had a target of persuading farmers to diversify at least 50 per cent of this land.
The second component was for 12 blocks, where the water table had fallen below 35 metres. Here, sowing of paddy was not allowed on panchayat land. This is spread over 7,200 hectares. The third component of the scheme was for the rest of the state.
Under the scheme, paddy farmers diversifying to other crops were to get cash incentive of Rs 7,000 per acre, free seeds, government procurement of alternative crops, 85 per cent subsidy for installation of drip irrigation and payment of Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana premium by the government.
The state government had assigned the eight blocks with poor water table to as many director-level IAS officers for the success of the scheme. Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar had been touring these blocks to interact with farmers.
Among the eight blocks where the water table had gone down to more than 40 metres, the scheme evoked the best response in Sirsa, where 3,366 farmers had agreed to diversify on 3,853 hectares. The poorest response was in Siwan block of Kaithal, where merely 137 farmers agreed to diversify on 178 hectares.
In the rest of Haryana, the best response was in Jind, where 5,147 farmers with 6,846 hectares gave their consent to diversify. In Mahendragarh, only 57 farmers with 59 hectares opted for the scheme.
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