PUNJAB CM for crafting multi pronged strategy to propel crop diversification in state

Author(s): City Air NewsPunjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal presiding over a daylong series of meetings with various groups of farmers at Chandigarh on Saturday. Chandigarh, April 20, 2013: Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal...

PUNJAB CM for crafting multi pronged strategy to propel crop diversification in state

Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal presiding over a daylong series of meetings with various groups of farmers at Chandigarh on Saturday.

Chandigarh, April 20, 2013: Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal today called upon the visiting central team of agriculture experts on crop diversification to help the state in formulating a multi pronged strategy to bring out the beleaguered peasantry from the rut of wheat/paddy rotation on one hand and supplement their income on the other.

Presiding over a daylong series of meetings with various groups of farmers including cotton and sugarcane growers, citrus, fruits and vegetables growers, floriculturists, dairy and fish farmers, agriculture marketing experts and self help groups besides other categories of farmers interested with allied farming i.e Fishery, Bee Keeping, Goatry, Piggery etc. to elicit their views after marathon discussions on diversification of agriculture and seeking their vital inputs for modifications in the draft agriculture policy towards a second push for ‘Green Revolution’ in terms of crop diversification.

The Chief Minister apprehended that the constant decline in the margin of profits in wake of higher agricultural inputs has resulted in negative agriculture policies which must be rectified without any delay otherwise these would further push the distressed peasantry in debt trap. He asked the central team to judge by themselves the pathetic condition of farmers who had personally narrated their woes in front of them and they must prevail upon the Union Agriculture Ministry to enhance substantial funds for Crop diversification as the paltry sum of Rs 500 crore sanctioned for it was insufficient to undertake this gigantic task.

Highly impressed by the free and frank deliberations with the farmers, the Chief Minister said the interaction with the various groups of farmers was not only result oriented but also updated him about the hardships faced by them. He emphasized the need to have such interactions regularly as it was far more effective than the routine meetings with the officers. He also asked the agriculture department to prepare a detailed Directory of progressive farmers to facilitate them to share their vast knowledge and expertise amongst themselves.   

Badal appreciated the Union Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar for taking personal pains in helping the state to pursue Agriculture diversification program in the right earnest and hoped that the central team which had arrived here at Union Minister’s behest would take stock of the situation in a holistic manner and forward its recommendations accordingly. In order to boost the crop diversification program in the state the Chief Minister laid major thrust on the allied farming. He asked the Co-operation department to formulate a scheme to advance loans to the farmers especially for Goatry, Piggery and Fishery. He also asked the Poultry farmers to come up with concrete proposals to give much needed fillip Poultry in the state.    

The Chief Minister rued that Punjab which had once led the country in ushering Green Revolution in mid 1960s was now on the threshold of agriculture decay and therefore he solicited centre’s enormous help to bail out the dejected farmer in this hour of crisis. He however said that Punjab farmer was known for his innovative and entrepreneurial skills but lack of marketing support in terms of subsidies on account of agriculture equipments, infra structure, seeds, pesticides and other farming inputs hindered them to take initiatives in embracing diversification. He apprised the team that the Punjab government had already drafted an Agricultural policy aimed at bringing crop diversification in the state which could only be possible with the active support and co-operation of the Government of India (GoI).

The Chief Minister reiterated that the state government was committed to shift a major chunk of its cultivable area under Paddy to Maize, Oilseeds, Pulses, Vegetables, Sugarcane, Basmati, Fruits and Flowers over a period of next three years. He urged the team to recommend various Centres of excellence for Sugarcane, Maize, Oilseeds, Soyabean and Pulses to undertake extensive research in order to motivate the farmers to adopt these crops adding he said that these Centres would not only help in developing high yielding varieties of seeds besides educating the farmers for harmful effects on human health and environment of excessive use of pesticides and insecticides. He also stressed on the need to develop facilities for genetic engineering and tissue culture to improve the plant breeding which could only be feasible with back up support from PAU for which centre should liberally enhance financial grant to it.

The Chief Minister also agreed to one of the proposals put forth by the Citrus growers to embark upon a joint marketing strategy by the farmers, Punjab Agriculture Marketing Board, Punjab Agri Export Corporation and PAU for the marketing of Kinnow. Referring to the another demand raised by the seed producers, he asked the PAU to give proper training to them about the existing and upcoming varieties of Hybrid seeds so that they could convince the farmers about their qualitative and quantitative benefits.   

Interacting with the farmers, Badal also urged them to dig tanks for water storage installed with Solar Pumps for irrigation purposes. He also asked the Chairman Punjab State Farmer’s Commission and Financial Commissioner Development (FCD) to explore the possibility of giving subsidy on the Sprinklers for drip irrigation and dryers for Maize. The Chief Minister also asked the Director Horticulture to work out the modalities for setting up of Leachy estate in Pathankot region on the pattern of Kinnow estates besides exploring possibilities for developing seedless varieties of Kinnows as successful trials have been made for it in Pakistan so that commercial plantation of seedless kinnows could be undertaken in the five Kinnow estates in Punjab.

Likewise the Chief Minister also asked the Vice Chancellor PAU to work out a detailed proposal to be sent to the Union government for recommending MSP for Maize to enable the Punjab farmers to switch over to it, which was far more profitable and less water intensive crop as compared to paddy. Emphasising on the need for post harvest care of fruits, vegetables due to their factor of perishibility he asked the Agriculture department to work out the proposal for providing Refrigerated vans, zone wise across the state to enhance the shelf life of these commodities. Mr Badal impressed upon the central team to initiate the schemes based on the suggestions put forth by the progressive farmers on the pilot basis and if they prove to be successful then these could be replicated on big scale.

The Chief Minister also asked the team to incentivise the cultivation of Pulses, Maize, cotton, sugarcane besides promoting horticulture and Agro-Forestry in a big way by giving handsome subsidy to the farmers for the purchase of equipment and machinery used in various farm operations. Conceding to the demand of farmers, he asked the FCD to ensure the functioning of juicing plants in the state to guarantee remunerative returns to the Kinnow growers through its value addition. He also assured all support and co-operation to the self help groups in the state engaged in the processing and marketing of agricultural products like Turmeric, chilly, condiments, pickles, chutney, jams, squashes etc.

The Chief Minister also asked the Agriculture department to bring more area under cultivation of turmeric in Kandi belt keeping in view its tremendous potential. He also assured the farmers that Power supply in the farm sector would be streamlined to ensure adequate electricity for farm operations during day as well as night. He also assured the Sugarcane growers that he would take up the matter with private sugar Mill owners to start the crushing by November 1 positively to avoid hardships to the farmers due to uncertainty. He also asked the Financial Commissioner Co-operation to ensure crushing in co-operative sugar mills from this date.

In order to promote the export of potatoes the Chief Minister assured the potato growers of fulsome support on behalf of state government adding that he would take up the matter with the Ministry of Agriculture GoI to allow the state seed certification agency to have the power of Federal Certification agency to facilitate export of quality seeds especially of potato across the globe, which was in high demand. He also constituted a committee with representatives of Potato growers and state agriculture department to boost the export potential of potato crop. Referring to another demand of the Floriculturist the Chief Minister asked the Transport department to allow them to send their cartons of flowers through Punjab Roadways buses on nominal charges on the pattern of Himachal Pradesh.     

Prominent amongst those present on the occasion included Cabinet Ministers Adesh Partap Singh Kairon, Parminder Singh Dhindsa and Gulzar Singh Ranike, Chief Parliamentary Secretary GS Babbehali and Babu Parkash Chand Garg, Chairman Punjab State Farmer’s Commission Dr GS Kalkat, Chief Secretary Rakesh Singh, FCD Suresh Kumar, Principal Secretary to Chief Minister and Financial Commissioner Co-operation SK Sandhu, Special Principal Secretary to Chief Minister Gaggandip Singh Brar, Financial Commissioner Animal Husbandry G Vajralingam, Advisor to FCD Dr Balwinder Singh Sidhu, Director Agriculture Dr Mangal Singh Sandhu, Chairman Punjab State Agriculture Marketing Board Ajmer Singh Lakhowal, BKU President Balbir Singh Rajewal, VC PAU Dr BS Dhillon, VC GADVASU Dr VK Taneja besides senior officers of the state government.

The Central team was represented by Project Director Directorate of Maize Research New Delhi Dr OP Yadav, Project Director Directorate of Cattle Meerut Dr A Sharma, Commissioner Animal Husbandry GoI Dr AS Nanda, Agricultural Commissioner Dr JS Sandhu, Joint Secretary Food Processing Anuradha Prasad, Head CSWCRTI Research centre Chandigarh Dr AK Tiwari, Consultant Agronomy Satyaveer Singh and Director NRC Agro Forestry Jhansi Dr SK Dhyaani.

Punjab Chief Minister, Parkash Singh Badal interacting with the farmers at Chandigarh on Saturday.

Saturday, April 20, 2013