As many as 36 per cent farmers in Punjab are ‘marginal farmers’ whose income is less than their expenditure, said Professor Sucha Singh Gill, during a public lecture at Panjab University, Monday.
Professor Sucha Singh Gill is a renowned economist and former director of Centre for Research in Rural and Industrial Development, Chandigarh. He spoke on neo-liberalism and agrarian crisis at a seminar organised at the university.
During the lecture, he said that 36 per cent of farmers in Punjab are trapped in debt and are forced to borrow money every year to sustain life.
Citing NSSO data, he said, “66 per cent of farmers in India are marginal farmers and these farmers are the ones who will die first.”
“We are living in the era of death of peasantry and commercialisation of social services like education, health and agriculture, is a big threat. Neo-liberalism is a policy model that seeks to transfer public sector into private sector. We know, capitalisation works towards disadvantage of those who have less resources,” he said.
He further said large number of young people from Punjab were leaving the country and were willing to discontinue agriculture as it is no more profitable.
He said, “In 2003, 41 per cent of people expressed their desire to leave agriculture if any alternative would be provided. People do not think that agriculture is a profitable source. Also, agriculture and farmers are not given a good status in the society. Being a farmer is not easy.”
In Punjab, there are nearly 25 lakh land owners but the number of actual cultivators is only 93,100 and across India, the actual cultivators are even lesser.
“In India, there are more than 14 crore farm land owners, but among them, only 7 crore are actual farmers, while a large number of them are small marginal farmers,” he said during the lecture.
He said that India need to change its neo-liberalistic policies as they make people helpless.
“Commercialisation of agriculture is not going to help. We need to change the policy of neo-liberalism in the country and move out from the state of helplessness. I think, some of the best things can be done if opportunities are used wisely,” he added.