Punjab’s Small Farmers Cry for Help
Punjab farmers can be categorized into two main segments. One is big farmers with larger land holdings say from 20 acres and above and small farmers with less than 10 acres who constitute 80 percent of the total Punjab peasantry. Small farmers only are prone to suicides because they are the ones who are under debt. This segment of farmers are the most hard working and can grow anything provided good quality seeds and fertilizers were provided to them at fair prices. Need of the hour is to prepare and equip these farmers to increase their income per acre but not to make them dependent on debt remittance packages.
These are the people who will be most effected under WTO agreement (GATT) i.e. General Agreement for Trade and Tariff. To save this class of farmers and to compete in the international market, lot of hard work is required.
If any political party is really interested in improving the health of sick Punjab Agriculture sector then the following points are to be taken care of:
1 Improve the marketing infrastructure, make the system transparent and conduct survey’s for different agriculture products. Survey’s can help farmers to estimate the total cultivation to be made of a particular crop in a season. He can decide that how many acres should be bought under the crop to get maximum profits.
2 MSP should be set for all the agriculture products rather than only for wheat and rice.
MSP stands for minimum support price for wheat and rice but irony is that it is considered to be as Maximum support price. Actually MSP is set so that the produce should not be priced less than the minimum support price and there is no upper limit to it.
Some times buying is done in the mandis(Grain markets) at price much less than the MSP for personal gains this exploitation of the small farmers need to be checked.
3 Ground water levels are depleting due to use of more water then actually require in order to produce more to increase the income per acre. This is due to failure of the concerned departments. Educate farmers for it and give them some practical solutions for the same.
4 Excess of manures, pesticides and insecticides are spoiling the health of our mother earth. But farmer is help less because otherwise he cannot get his crop matured well in time and late maturity will lead to lesser output and lesser rates hence more losses. Health of our motherland and losses of our farmers can be minimized by providing them organic pesticides and insecticides at controlled rates
5 Last but not the least invests more in the Research and Development (R&D) in the agriculture sector. The package should be demanded for R&D to develop new seeds producing quality and quantity both. Few agri-technocrates are working sincerely in the agriculture universities and “Kheti Khoj Kendra’s” specially established for the job but we have seen that mostly the university advises regarding different crops are irrational. Farmers of Punjab are learning with their own experiences.
Punjab agriculture was having an edge after 1978 when the Punjab farmers brought the green revolution but sorry to say that political parties came to power after that could not capitalize on that edge. Till 1980 when there was little rice production in states like Bihar and UP because of lack of water resources the governments of these states gradually developed the infrastructure for water supply for irrigation and now these states also started producing rice in good quantity. Punjab Chief Minister S. Parkash Singh Badal did the same for Malwa during his four terms as a C M. He also constructed packha(concrete) canals to the area where there was an acute shortage of water in the Malwa region of Punjab. When states like Bihar and UP were developing infrastructure for water resources and electricity, Punjab should have developed its research and development (R&D) section at the same pace. Punjab must have attained the status of an export quality seed producing state instead of merely a quantity grain producing state. Punjab should have been known as a Laboratory for World agriculture Industry till today