Hoping for improvement in the agriculture sector with the change of state government earlier this year, big farmers in Punjab have hiked the annual lease rent for which they give their agriculture land to small farmers for contract farming. The other reasons for the hike are increase in wheat yield by 2 quintals per acre and hike in MSP of wheat by Rs 100 a quintal. However, small farmers practising contract farming are not entirely convinced about the move.
Gurmail Singh, a farmer from Lakhewali village in Muktsar district who has taken 50 acres of land on lease, says, “After the change of government, people hoped some good will come and hence annual lease rent increased. This year, I paid Rs 50,000 per acre, up from Rs 46,000 I paid last year. However, with Goods Service Tax (GST) kicking in from July and the state government’s debt waiver promise yet to be notified, we are wondering if it is an artificial hike.”
Jarnail Singh Yadav, a farmer based in Dugal Kalan in Patiala district, says, “Last year, the annual lease rent were Rs 40- 45,000 in Patiala district. This year, they are Rs 45,000-50,000. Farmers were happy with good wheat crop this season, but let us see how the paddy harvest goes. Our investment on agriculture land is more now while our expenditure on farm implements and pesticides has also increased due to GST implementation.”
Farmers say annual lease rent was static in 2015 and 2016 while they even fell slightly fallen in 2014, but the same has increased this year. G S Bhullar, agriculture development officer in Ferozepur, said, “A positive momentum is being seen in the market after wheat yield increased and hence lease prices have increased slightly.”
Dr Jasbir Singh, director (agriculture) in the Punjab government, linked the hike to two good crops of wheat and paddy consecutively. “Cotton was also sold in the range of Rs 4000-6000 per quintal. This year, area under cotton cultivation has increased from 2.5 lakh hectares to 4 lakh hectares after a good harvest in 2016. These have collectively resulted in an increase in hike in annual lease rent.”