Sunflower harvesting has just concluded in Punjab but state agriculture minister Sucha Singh Langah seems to be blisfully unaware. With the Akali-BJP ministers being on pressnote-issuing spree,Langah announced a subsidy to boost sunflower cultivation last week. The crop,which has been harvested recently,is due for next sowing only in February,when the state goes to polls.
The agriculture minister has in the last two months announced subsidies for boosting cultivation of almost everything sugarcane,cotton,maize and vegetables except paddy,the water-guzzling crop Punjab needs to diversify from.
But this sudden interest in diversification during fag end of the governments tenure springs from new recruits at the public relations depertment than new initiatives to boost farm production.
To begin with,subsidies for these crops are provided under the Macro Management of Agriculture (MMA),Integrated Scheme of Oilseeds,Pulses,Oilpalm and Maize (ISOFOM),Rashtriya Krishi Vikas Yojana (RKVY),National Food Security Mission and National Horticulture Mission all centrally-sponsored schemes.
Also,all the subsidies being announced by the minister had been decided well in advance for the year 2011-12. By April 2012,not only will the annual allocation under various central schemes be reworked,the 12th Five Year plan too would come into force,which aims at complete overhaul of exisiting agricultural schemes and programmes.
Interestingly,no one in the agriculture department seems to be aware of ministers weekly announcements. We were asked by the minister to send a list and details of various central schemes to the public relations department. There are some new recruits churining out the press notes, said a senior department official.
Langah,when contacted,did not know about the new subsidy for sunflower.
I have issued the press statement but the respective joint directors have the details. These subsidies are being provided under various central schemes but it is our duty to publicise them. The subsidy for sunflower can be availed by farmers by applying for them before the sowing season, he said.