Chandigarh: To move farmers out of the paddy-wheat cycle amidst the depleting groundwater table and to make agriculture a secure and profitable profession in Haryana, India’s prominent bread basket, the BJP-led state government is empowering farmers by bringing changes in farming perceptions, a boost it expects will help double revenue.
Experts attribute the state’s success to evolving and adapting its own models to make farming sustainable.
To ensure that the farmers become prosperous through crop diversification and eco-friendly techniques, the BJP government led by Manohar Lal Khattar, who has been at the helm since 2014, is providing them incentives, besides a range of subsidies and grants.
As per official data, a whopping Rs 76,000 crore has been directly deposited into farmers’ accounts in the past six seasons for crop purchases.
The state -- where the water availability is 20,93,598 crore litres against the demand of 34,96,276 crore litres, a shortfall of 14 lakh crore litres -- holds the distinction of being the first in the country to procure a maximum of 14 crops at the minimum support price (MSP).
Also, the government has set a national benchmark by offering the highest price of Rs 372 per quintal for sugarcane. To facilitate online crop sales, 81 marketing yards have been integrated with the e-NAM portal.
The government linked agriculture with technology by establishing the Meri Fasal Mera Byora portal. Approximately nine lakh farmers are registered with it.
Through this portal, the farmers can access benefits such as crop sales and financial assistance for fertilizers, seeds, loans, and agricultural equipment, all just with a click of the mouse.
As agriculture is vulnerable to natural disasters, the Chief Minister introduced an initiative, the ‘e-crop compensation portal’, enabling farmers to register information about their crop losses.
A government spokesperson told IANS that under the Pradhan Mantri Kisan Samman Nidhi Yojana, aimed at uplifting the farming community, Rs 4,288 crore has been disbursed in 13 instalments among 1,970,000 farmers in the state.
Additionally, more than 2 lakh farmers have received insurance claims of Rs 7,071 crore under the Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana.
Chief Minister Khattar has augmented compensation for crop damage by natural disasters to Rs 15,000 per acre. The state has allocated Rs 3,928 crore to support affected farmers.
To make farming more sustainable, 56,343 solar pumps have been installed with subsidies ranging from 75 to 90 per cent, directly benefiting the agricultural community.
To promote horticultural cultivation alongside traditional crops, the state has set up 14 centres of excellence, besides introducing a unique initiative called the Bhavantar Bharpai scheme to mitigate risks for farmers.
Under this scheme, guaranteed prices have been set for 21 horticultural crops, with the inclusion of bajra in the Kharif season of 2021.
The Chief Minister Horticulture Insurance Scheme offers insurance coverage of up to Rs 40,000 per acre for horticultural crops.
Additionally, the government has facilitated the formation of 746 farmer producer groups, connecting 100,000 farmers for the grading, storage, and marketing of fruits and vegetables.
Subsidies of Rs 20,000 per acre are granted for the establishment of orchards for mangoes, guavas, and citrus fruits, while a 35 per cent subsidy supports the construction of cold chains for fruits and vegetables, and a 40 per cent subsidy encourages mushroom cultivation.
To boost irrigation practices, the government is offering an 85 per cent subsidy on micro irrigation systems, in line with the Prime Minister's Per Drop More Crop initiative.
Through the underground pipeline scheme, farmers receive grants of up to Rs 10,000 per acre, with a maximum cap of Rs 60,000 per farmer.
For water conservation, the Chief Minister launched the Mera Pani -- Meri Virasat scheme, offering financial assistance of Rs 7,000 per acre to farmers engaged in crop diversification and water conservation efforts.
As per the Integrated Water Resources Action Plan (2023-25), the state aims to meet the twin challenges of water depletion and water-logging.
According to the plan, 3.14 lakh acres of land will be covered under crop diversification, which will save 1.05 lakh crore litres (7.6 per cent) water.
The direct seeding of rice (DSR) will be done in 4.75 lakh acres and will save 1.18 lakh crore litres (8.4 per cent) and 27.53 lakh acres will be brought under conservation tillage to save 0.51 lakh crore litres (3.7 per cent) of water.
Using the DSR technique, one can mechanically drill paddy seeds directly into the field. The machine does the seeding of rice and spray of herbicide simultaneously.
A further 0.47 lakh crore litres (3.4 per cent) water will be saved by using high varieties in 3.49 lakh acres, 0.35 lakh crore litres (2.5 per cent) will be saved by using green manure in 9.73 lakh acres and 0.27 lakh crore litres will be saved by covering 0.43 lakh acres under natural farming.
Farmer Amar Godhra of Kurukshetra district has been successful in using the DSR technique in his 20 acres of land over the past three years.
“The mechanical plantation not only saves money but also saves water and electricity to run the tubewell, besides early crop maturity,” he told IANS.
Eighty five blocks in 19 districts in Haryana have been critical with low availability of canal water with an increasing dependency on groundwater.
Haryana’s status of groundwater extraction is 134.14 per cent in the assessment year 2022, the third worst in the country.