Updated: February 2, 2021 9:28:45 am
Bhupinder Singh (37), a farmer from village Tanda Churian in Mukerian subdivision of Hoshiarpur district, said that in the past four years his income has not increased even by even one per cent because of the increasing input cost. Instead he has been suffering huge losses, he said, adding that over the years prices of crops suffering huge fluctuations.
Bhupinder owns four acres of land and grows kinnow on one acre, while one acre is dedicated to sugarcane and on the remaining two acres he grows wheat and paddy — both procured by the government.
The Union government in its 2017 budget had announced doubling the income of farmers in next five years.
And when one year is left for this deadline, small and marginal farmers, which are 86 per cent of the total farming community in the country and nearly 69 per cent in the Punjab (owning one acre to less than five acres of land) are highly disappointed with the latest Union Budget.
“How I can get double income when I sold my kinnow at the rate of Rs 5 to 7 per kg this season while it was at Rs 15 to 16 per kg in 2017. By that standard kinnow should be purchased from farmers at the rate of Rs 30 to 32 per kg by next year which is next to impossible when current rate is Rs 5 to 7 per kg,” said Bhpuinder Singh, adding that the same crop is 4-5 times costly in retail market but farmers are not even recovering the input cost.
Also the rate of sugarcane has not increased from Rs 310 to Rs 315 per quintal in past four years while the input cost on it has increased manifold in the form of labour cost, transportation to the sugar mill during due to increase in fuel prices, he said, adding that if the MSP of wheat and paddy has been increased to around 200 to 250 per quintal in all these years, then the labour cost of paddy transplantation has also increased from Rs 2,500 per acre to Rs 5,000 per acre.
“So where is the profit? We get half of our payment of sugarcane after a delay of over a year from the sugar mills while there is a provision to make payment within two weeks times,” said Bhupinder, adding:
“Now I am running a tractor trolley to transport sand and pebbles for construction places so that I can earn my livelihood… The income of farmers cannot be enhanced until government makes MSP legal for all the crops”
He rued that at the height of the pandemic he was not even able to pay his children’s school fee.
A marginal farmer from Jalandhar, Balwinder Nahar of Gazipur village, said: “We were hoping for big things for us in this budget but there is hardly anything which can enhance our income even to 5 per cent. What to say of doubling it!”
Balwinder is a vegetable grower and claims that he usually sells these at a throwaway price which is Rs 4 to 5 per kg for cauliflower, Rs 2 to 3 per kg for potato.
To change his fate, Balwinder shifted to organic farming over a year back to enhance his income. “Organic farming does not require pesticides but only hard work and proper marketing of it finds permanent costumers for such produce and the price is also double to the produce of inorganic produce,” he said.
But the farmer rued: “But in the Covid time, when people were watching their budget, my entire crop got wasted. The government was missing here to help farmers like us.”
“During Covid time not only the clients for organic produce reduced to more than half but also their purchasing power of the existing customers reduced to half,” said Balwinder, who does not even get Rs 6,000 under PM Kisan Scheme annually despite being a qualified beneficiary under it. He had to take Rs 1.50 lakh loan to get admission of his daughter in nursing course due to losses during the Covid time.
“The kind of policies the government is making every year will never enhance our income because it lacks sincerity in government’ efforts. Now I am working hard and preparing organic vegetable saplings and developing marketing plan for this with the help of his two partners — Gurdip Singh and Sarabjit Singh — to enhance our income,” said Balwinder, who is PG diploma holder in export and finance management.
“Government only makes political statements in the budget while it should have helped farmers by waiving off their debts to some extent,” said Bhupinder, who has a debt of Rs 2.70 lakh from two banks.
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