Ludhiana, Sep 21 (IANS) Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh on Saturday appealed to the farmers in his state not to resort to paddy stubble burning, as a mark of respect for the historic 550th Prakash Parb of the first Sikh Guru.
The Happy Seeding machines being distributed by his government would not only help in stubble management, but also ensure increased productivity for the farmers, he told reporters here.
He was inaugurating a two-day Pashupaalan Mela at Guru Angad Dev Veterinary and Animal Sciences University.
Amarinder Singh said paddy stubble burning, besides damaging the texture of soil and human health, had emerged as a major environmental threat.
He called upon farmers to take full advantage of the straw management machinery, which was being provided at 50-80 per cent subsidy.
Amarinder Singh said the state had provided 28,600 implements worth Rs 269.38 crore to farmers during 2018-19 and 28,000 implements worth Rs 273.80 crore would be provided to them for paddy straw management in this fiscal.
He also announced that the state would develop a sugarcane research and training institute at Gurdaspur, besides establishing an agricultural market innovation research and intelligence centre in Mohali.
The centre would provide necessary support and assistance to farmers in marketing of their diversified crops, said the Chief Minister.
Addressing farmers gathered here, Amarinder Singh emphasised the need to switch to crop diversification to conserve the depleting ground water.
He announced that the state had already developed a diversification plan to shift nearly 10 lakh hectares from rice to alternate, less water intensive crops.
Listing the initiatives for crop diversification, he said a state-of-the-art Indian Institute of Maize Research was being set up at Ladhowal, while a Postgraduate Institute of Horticulture Research and Education was coming up in Amritsar.
With the concerted efforts of the state government to sensitise farmers about alternative crops, the area under maize, basmati and cotton cultivation had registered a considerable increase during the current season, he said.
Water saving technologies, such as drip irrigation, were being popularised through 80-90 per cent subsidy in the state, besides introduction of the direct benefit transfer for electricity scheme to directly compensate farmers who save electricity and thereby groundwater, he added.