How direct seeding method is growing on Haryana farmers - Hindustan Times
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How direct seeding method is growing on Haryana farmers

By, Chandigarh
Feb 08, 2024 09:32 AM IST

In 2023 Kharif farmers grew paddy using DSR technique in 1.78 lakh acre; a peasant opting for DSR scheme gets ₹4,000 per acre incentive and subsidy for buying a DSR machine

Haryana farmers adopting direct seeded rice (DSR) technique, the first-of-its-kind incentive-driven and less water-consuming method of growing rice, found a forceful mention last year when chief minister Manohar Lal Khattar addressed the governing council meeting of NITI Aayog in the presence of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Not only does a farmer opting for the DSR scheme get <span class='webrupee'>₹</span>4,000 per acre incentive, but also there is a subsidy for buying a DSR machine. (HT Photo)
Not only does a farmer opting for the DSR scheme get 4,000 per acre incentive, but also there is a subsidy for buying a DSR machine. (HT Photo)

At the heart of Haryana’s DSR drive is that paddy cultivation under this method doesn’t require labour and water of the size and scale of the traditional transplantation method and DSR can reduce water consumption and production costs by 15-20%.

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Not only does a farmer opting for the DSR scheme get 4,000 per acre incentive, but also there is a subsidy for buying a DSR machine.

The cultivators backing this initiative had prompted the state government last year to set aside 81 crore to promote paddy cultivation using the DSR technique on 2 lakh acre.

There was a budgetary provision for buying 500 DSR machines also.

Such has been the response that after a three-tier authentication, the agriculture department has verified 1.78 lakh acre (till October 30, 2023) in 12 districts where paddy was grown using DSR technique during the 2023 kharif season, according to official records.

Over 50,000 farmers, including the largest 11,131 peasants of Sirsa district, had registered for this scheme in 2023. However, the actual number came down after final checks.

While 50 crore at the rate 4,000 per acre incentive has been transferred directly to the bank accounts of farmers against verified areas in 2023, the remaining 21 crore will be released in a week, top government sources said.

Agriculture department officials say the cultivation of paddy via the DSR method in 1.78 lakh acre means that farmers have saved approximately 155 million cubic metres of water.

According to agriculture and farmers welfare minister JP Dalal, at the root of Haryana cultivators adopting DSR technique to grow paddy is the state government’s two-pronged strategy of taking decisive initiatives while giving incentives to the farmers.

“The bigger objective of the government is to save water and completely reduce the practice of stubble burning by promoting DSR,” Dalal said, adding that next on the agenda of the state government is to promote paddy cultivation through drip irrigation.

Beginning and benefits

In 2021, under the watch of experts, farmers of eight districts of Haryana grew paddy on 17,444 acre, the area verified under DSR against the target of 20,000-acre. The government had dubbed this as a “first-of-its-kind incentive-driven push” to promote the DSR technique.

This money-linked scheme was first implemented in Ambala, Yamunanagar, Karnal, Kurukshetra, Kaithal, Panipat, Sonepat and Jind districts during the Kharif season in 2021. About 9 crore was disbursed to 8,627 farmers at the rate of 5,000 per acre through DBT for verified areas.

Each farmer opting for this scheme was allowed to grow the crop using DSR technique on a maximum 2.5 acre. This piece of land was called a ‘demonstration plot’ to popularise the technique among the peasants.

In 2022, an area of 72,900- acre was achieved under DSR against the target of 1 lakh acre and over 29 crore was transferred directly to the bank accounts of 16,641 farmers at the rate of 4,000 per acre for the verified area, officials said.

The scheme was implemented in four other districts Fatehabad, Hisar, Rohtak, and Sirsa.

Sources say for Kharif 2024 the government has set the target of producing paddy with DSR technique in 2.50 lakh acre.

Speaking to Hindustan Times, agriculture minister Dalal explained that another advantage of DSR method is that paddy is sown early and harvesting also begins earlier than the paddy cultivated through transplantation.

“This gives farmers enough window for harvesting and without resorting to the extreme practice of stubble burning to prepare the field for wheat sowing,” said Dalal.

According to the district-wise DSR registration data, farmers had registered 3.37 lakh acre for this scheme against the government’s target of 2 lakh acre.

However, after field verifications, the authorities approved 1.78 lakh acre where paddy was cultivated with DSR technique.

As per the data, the Sirsa district topped the list where farmers grew paddy with DSR technique in 78,035-acre followed by Karnal (20,247-acre), Fatehabad (14,515-acre), Jind (12,853-acre), Hisar (12,676-acre), Sonepat (10,310-acre), Kaithal (8,522-acre), Kurukshetra (5,968-acre), Rohtak (5,340-acre), Ambala (4,683-acre), Yamunanagar (2,965-acre), and Panipat (2,433-acre).

Why DSR

In his 2023-24 budget speech, chief minister Khattar had said that in the 2022 kharif season, paddy cultivation in 72,000 acres with DSR technique saved 31,500 crore litres of water.

Officials say it is an environment-friendly alternative to the conventional method of transplanting which requires more water and labour.

Paddy is grown on about 34 lakh acres in Haryana, leading to excessive exploitation of groundwater. Haryana produces 68 lakh metric tonnes (MT) of paddy, including around 20 lakh MT basmati. Agriculture and allied activities contribute 18.5% to the economy of the state.

Over 9 lakh farmers register themselves regularly on Meri Fasal Mera Byora (MFMB), making it easier for the government to undertake different pro-farmer initiatives, including financial support via DBT for DSR promotion.

Officials say farmers can get yield with DSR at par with the transplanted paddy. It overcomes the problem of labour requirement for nursery raising and transplanting and reduces dependence on hired labour while facilitating timely sowing of paddy as well as the succeeding crops, particularly wheat crops which are sensitive to delayed planting.

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