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Farmer-the most endangered species

Amarinder’s Farm Menu: Sweet: MSP, BT cotton Sour: Land Acquisition

Posted by Ramoo on January 18, 2007

http://punjabnewz.com/1566/amarinders-farm-menuswe…

Fifty-six-year-old Darshan Singh Tabiba, a farmer from Hiatpura village, is a poster boy for the progressive farmers’ clique.

Owner of 22-acre farm, of which 13 acres are under fish farming and on rest he grows rice and wheat, Tabiba is an enterprising farmer. He also tried his hand at agro forestry, when he shifted three acres of his land under poplar.

But Tabiba is not happy. Despite tall claims made by the Congress regime on its steps to alleviate the pain of farmers, farmers are not happy.

A farmer says, “i cannot say who is to be blamed, but the fact is that the Jats in Punjab are dying and there is no one to save them.”

The points where the Congress government has scored include jacking up of land prices in the state, smooth procurement, introduction of BT Cotton and a historic Rs 100 per quintal hike in the MSP.

But where the state government has failed miserably is getting a reprieve from the Center for indebtedness. Besides, the forcible land acquisition for SEZs and government’s failure to reach out to farmer at the grassroots has hurt the community the most.

Gurmeet Singh, a farmers from Lalton village, says, “Many like us were and are still under huge debts. The sky-rocketing land prices have come to our aide, for we have been able to sell a piece of our land and pay off our debts and begin a new life. Statewide, the price of per acre land is not less than Rs 12 lakh and this phenomenon can in no way be expected under the Akali regime. But then forcible land acquisition in Barnala and Amritsar, farmers’ arrests, lathicharge are not good news.”

Dr S S Johl, who designed the diversification policy for the state, explains the Congress’s performance as, “They started with honesty. Captain Amarinder Singh’s intentions to turn around the agriculture in Punjab were placed rightly, but the people on whom he entrusted this task, failed him. Take for example the case of diversification, so many allied bodies, like Markfed, Punjab Agro, were asked to pitch in. And this led to duplicate efforts. One agency didn’t know what the other was doing.”

Dr G S Kalkat, chairman, Punjab Farmers’ Commission, showing his soft corner for the state government, says, “We should give the state government the credit, for at least they initiated some steps. A Rs 100-crore grant to Punjab Agricultural University is a landmark step, which was required to give the much-needed impetus to research. Besides, in the last four years, we have been able to shift one lakh hectares from under rice. No doubt this figure may seem small, but the fact is that things are moving in the right direction now.”

Sukhjinder Singh Randhawa, Parliamentary Secretary, Agriculture, and his lieutenant B S Sidhu, Director, Agriculture, claims, “introduction of BT Cotton has not only revived the white gold in the state, but has also helped in reducing the pesticide load on Punjab to one-third. Area under maize has gone up from 1.48 lakh hectares to 1.6 hectares, sugarcane from 80,000 hectare to 1.2 hectare, cotton from 5.11 lakh hectare to 6.18 hectare, indicating that farmers are diversifying from rice.”

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