Punjab government on Monday launched an agriculture diversification scheme which aims at conserving state's depleting ground water and encourage farmers to grow alternative crops.
The state will provide 70 per cent subsidy on farm equipment to farmers who adopt drip irrigation, water tanks, solar water pumps and solar connections, an official said.
Furthermore in the next five years, 12 lakh hectares out of the total 28 lakh hectare area currently under paddy will be shifted to alternative crops like maize, sugarcane, cotton, pulses, fruits and vegetables, besides agro forestry, he said.
Fifty per cent subsidy on seeds, insecticides, pesticides, machinery and other input materials is also given to boost the cultivation of alternative crops, he said.
State-of-the-art Borlaug Institute for Sout Asia coming up in Ludhiana will facilitate research for developing new varieties of wheat, cotton and maize crops and an amount of Rs 500 crore has already been earmarked for it.
Government has also enhanced the budget for Punjab Agricultural University to Rs 300 crore for the year 2013-14 from Rs 190 crore of 2012-13 to help it carry out extensive research and development.