State Agriculture Minister Jathedar Tota Singh on Wednesday demanded that the Centre should pitch in to fund the Punjab Agricultural University (PAU),as it can only function with the help of funds provided by the state and the Union governments.
Singh,who was at PAU to distribute awards to progressive farmers and preside over the two-day Kissan Mela that began on Wednesday,said: The vice-chancellor and other officials have told me about the problems regarding the universitys financial health. I will soon arrange a meeting with Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal and we will work out something very soon.
Meanwhile,in a rare gesture,the farmers,who were given cash awards by the university on Wednesday,returned the money as their contribution to the university.
While touring the various stalls put up,Singh showed keen interest in the paddy variety developed by the university. Vice-chancellor Dr B S Dhillon has told me that this variety is a replacement for the PAU 201 variety,which was a great hit with the farmers but had to be withdrawn as the millers faced some problem while milling the paddy.
When asked,the minister denied that there was a plan to impose cess on grains being sold in state mandis as proposed by the Punjab Farmers Commission. This is not possible as at the end,all this cess will have to be paid by the farmer. We cannot do that as the Centre is demanding that middlemen or arhtiyas should be removed so that the 2.5 per cent the farmers pay as tax to them can be saved.