Tuesday, 17 May, 2022
HomeEconomyWhy Haryana's plan to move farmers away from paddy is floundering

Why Haryana’s plan to move farmers away from paddy is floundering

Haryana launched Mera Pani Meri Virasat scheme, aimed at encouraging farmers to diversify beyond paddy, in May last year. It promises Rs 7,000 per acre of diversified crop.

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Chandigarh, New Delhi: Haryana’s much touted Mera Pani Meri Virasat scheme, aimed at encouraging farmers to diversify beyond paddy, has met with limited success in the state.

The scheme promises Rs 7,000 per acre of diversified crop but farmers have told ThePrint that thousands of them who grew crops other than paddy last year are yet to receive the money.

They also claimed that they have had to sell the diversified crop at rates lower than the minimum support price (MSP) because the state government failed to fulfil its promise of procuring the entire yield of diversified crop.

“The government doesn’t procure crops such as vegetables, pulses and oilseeds if we replace paddy and grow them. This makes diversification unviable for us,” said Mangal Dhull, a farmer from Sirsa.

“These crops also have huge storage and processing costs but with paddy, we have to just harvest it, take it to the mandi and then sell it. Last year I tried to cultivate maize and cotton in a small stretch but they were destroyed by heavy rains.”

Initially, farmers who intended to cultivate crops other than paddy in over 1.27 lakh hectares registered for the scheme but following two rounds of inspections, the total area that was actually diversified was 38,632 hectares.

Of the total area diversified, the largest was under cotton (22,131 hectares) followed by bajra (10,203 hectares), horticulture crops (3,611 hectares), maize (2,441 hectares) and pulses (246 hectares).

Farmers also complain of poor procurement, a fact that numbers reflect. According to state government data, of the 27.45 lakh metric tonnes of cotton produced in Haryana last year, the Cotton Corporation of India (CCI) procured a mere 5.27 lakh metric tonnes. Of the total production of 1.38 lakh metric tonnes of maize in the state in the last kharif season, the state government through its agriculture cooperative-Hafed procured only 4016.55 metric tonnes.

Even in this, farmers allege that not everyone’s crop grown under the scheme was procured at MSP.

Kaka Saini, a cotton farmer in Ratia said he cultivated cotton on three acres of his eight-acre farmland. “Most of the cotton was sold at Rs 4,000-4,500 per quintal while the MSP is Rs 5,515. The CCI said the moisture content in the cotton was too much,” he said.

“The government also did not give us the incentive of Rs 7,000 per acre as promised for diversifying to cotton. They inspected my farm also to check if I had grown cotton or not. If I hadn’t sown paddy on the remaining land, it would have been difficult for me to make my ends meet.”

That they were not paid the incentive is another major grouse for the farmers. Of the 47,000-odd farmers who diversified from paddy to other crops, very few received the first installment of Rs 2,000 per acre and almost all are waiting for the second installment of Rs 5,000 per acre.

Jaswant Singh of Fatehabad said he cultivated maize on eight acres of his 10-acre farmland and then had to sell the crop at Rs 600-700 per quintal while MSP is Rs 1,850. “I have also not got the money (incentive) at all. A government official even surveyed my farm to ensure that I have diversified in at least 50 per cent of my farmland,” Singh said.

The state government, however, blames the delay in payment on farmers not registering on its portal. “The reason that the farmers have not been able to get the second installment and in some cases both the installments is because they have not registered in the centralised farmer’s portal of Meri Fasal Mera Byora Portal (MFMBP),” Suresh Gahlawat, additional director agriculture, Haryana talking to The Print.

“Those farmers who have registered have already been paid while others are being asked to register so that money can be transferred to their bank accounts,” he added.

“For this year’s kharif season, the application portal under the scheme will open in April-May. We are hoping that the numbers will increase this season,” Gahlawat added.


Also read: Farmers can earn Rs 1 lakh cr in 5 yrs from Jal Shakti ministry’s Gobardhan scheme, says govt


The diversification scheme

The scheme, a brainchild of the Haryana government was launched in May last year ahead of the kharif season with a focus on areas where continuous paddy cultivation has led to the groundwater table depleting.

“Paddy is not a natural crop of this region. Growing 1 kg of rice requires an input of 4,000 to 5,000 litres of water,” said Vijay Singh Dahiya, former Haryana director general of agriculture during whose tenure the scheme was launched. “The main idea behind the scheme was to shift farmers from paddy to other crops but the shifting had to be made economical for them for which the monetary incentive was announced.”

Farmers in water-stressed blocks of Ratia (Fatehabad district), Siwan and Guhla (Kaithal), Pipli, Shahabad, Babain and Ismailabad (Kurukshetra) and Sirsa, where the groundwater level is below 40 m, were encouraged to cultivate alternate kharif crops lsuch maize, bajra, cotton, pulses, and horticultural crops.

The government promised to pay Rs 7,000 per acre for diversified crop, of which the first instalment of Rs 2,000 per acre would be paid after verification and the remaining Rs. 5,000 per acre when the crop is in the maturing stage. It was initially for farmers of paddy rich districts but later the scheme was opened to everyone.

The government had set a target of diversification on one lakh hectares through this scheme. It also announced that it would procure the diversified crop at MSP apart from bearing the entire cost of insuring them.

Farmers had to register online on the scheme’s portal and submit details of the revenue record of last season’s paddy cultivation that was going to be replaced.


Also read: How mahapanchayat in Haryana’s Jind could spell fresh trouble for BJP-JJP alliance


 

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4 COMMENTS

  1. in few years, if farmers continue to do what they do, soil would be bad, water would deplete, pollution would raise. they themselves are to blame for it.

  2. Half hearted efforts. Typical of government. Get a very good scheme, and then destroy it by not implementing it in its true spirit. And then wonder why are things not working.

  3. providing with an online portal with registration is good in terms of transparency in the system, but whose gonna do it for the farmers. The government should have a holistic approach while implementing these schemes.

  4. On the face of it, the scheme appears t be a good one. I think it requires Government intervention in analyzing the crops that can be grown in the state based on the market requirement and educate the farmers of the state on the same. So, the reason why the farmer suffered loss even though the idea appears to be good is due to poor planning and execution of the idea. Adding to that, due to COVID 19 the demand we see in the market isnt the realistic one. Hence, 2020 may not be the correct year for benchmarking this scheme.

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