Chandigarh, July 2: To boost crop diversification in agrarian states, the Centre has sanctioned Rs 224 crore and Rs 98.50 crore for Punjab and Haryana, respectively.
The funds will be utilised to reduce area under water guzzling crop paddy to other crops including cotton, sugarcane, basmati, maize, agro forestry etc, officials said here. "Central government has sanctioned Rs 224 crore for crop diversification for Punjab," Punjab Financial Commissioner (Development) Suresh Kumar said today.
Notably, Punjab government had submitted a plan of over Rs 7,000 crore with the Centre to implement crop diversification programme. Similarly, Haryana has also got funds to the tune of Rs 98.50 crore for crop diversification in the state. "We have been sanctioned Rs 98.50 crore by the Centre for promoting crop diversification in the state," Haryana Agriculture Department, Director General, A K Singh said here.
Union Finance Minister P Chidambaram in the budget 2013-14 had earmarked funds amounting to Rs 500 crore for crop diversification programme.
Punjab, the food bowl of the country, has initially planned to shift paddy area towards maize (40,000 hectares), cotton (40,000 hectares), basmati (50,000 hectares) and agro-forestry (20,000 hectares) as part of its crop diversification plan for current fiscal. Punjab government plans to reduce area under paddy from 28 lakh hectares to 16 lakh hectares during next six years because of excessive exploitation of natural resources including water depletion and depleting soil fertility due to paddy sowing.
Financial assistance of Rs 10,000 per hectare will be provided to farmers for seeds, insecticides and other inputs with Centre's funds.
Haryana has plans to divert 60,000 hectares of area under paddy to other crops including guar (16,800 hectares), maize (9,250 hectares), poplar (25,000 hectares) and short term rice (3,000 hectares) in the ongoing kharif season. Haryana government will be providing subsidy to the tune of up to Rs 10,000 per hectare through these funds to farmers on seeds and insecticides for opting alternative crops.
Because of overexploitation of underground water for paddy sowing, several blocks in both Punjab and Haryana have reached critical level.