Agriculture has been the traditional and most significant occupation in Haryana society. Rice is one of the most important crops grown in the state. Going by 2011 reports, rice is grown in about 18 of the state's 21 districts. Among these 18, about 7 are significant producers with high yield amounting to about 2500 kg/hectare. The average area under rice cultivation in these 7 districts was estimated to be 5.15 lakh hectares that year. Rice is a major kharif crop in these 7 districts. The total production of rice in the state (as of 2011) was recorded at 25.68 lakh tonnes. It is also a major food grain consumed in Haryana and exported out of the state.
One of the major challenges faced by the rice cultivators of Haryana is the depletion of the groundwater due to over-exploitation. Earlier this year, the state agriculture department declared that 68 of the 124 administrative blocks in the state were over-exploited in terms of ground water. A weak monsoon in any year is likely to put the entire crop at stake. With this is the prosperity and well being of cultivators and the state's economy also are at risk. Nitrogen depletion of the soil due to cultivation of paddy is another major concern.
Traditional farming is the norm rather than the exception in most of Haryana. The farmers have neither the knowledge nor the means to access the latest equipment available to provide their occupation a much required boost. Subsidies to buy such equipment and encouragement from banks and financial institutions are also sadly missing. A policy change in this matter has been long pending in the state.
One of the major actions that the state administration needs to undertake is setting the irrigation crisis on track. Construction of canals and pipelines and subsidies on doffing of wells are imperative to keep the state's rice production on track. The rice farmers of Haryana are in dire need of support in terms of research and awareness about the techniques that shall both enhance production and retain nitrogen levels in the soil. In cases where alternative crops must necessarily be planted, the farmers need to be educated about other profitable crops while ensuring that other nitrogen-rich areas of the soil are brought under rice cultivation. This will guarantee that rice production levels in the state do not fall, while individual farmers still produce the crop best suited to the capabilities of their farms.
Haryana farmers need to be provided subsidised grains in years when the monsoons are subnormal. An expert helpline must be initiated by the state government to assist farmers in answering their queries regarding quality of produce, pest inflictions, and fertilization of soil, apart from providing them accurate weather predictions.
A Naya Haryana a land of prosperity and plenty cannot be built without carefully cultivating our legacy of agricultural production. Rice is one of the major crops cultivated in Haryana. The efforts of the state government are imperative if we intend to improve the production and transform the state in to India's rice bowl.