Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal today appealed to farm scientists, academicians and agriculturalists to jointly play a proactive role in overhauling “non-remunerative and unproductive” agricultural policies to bail out “depressed” peasantry.
Addressing the agriculture experts and scientists who were honoured by the state government for their contribution to the field, the Chief Minister asked them to come forward and help the state and Union government.
Badal claimed that over 1 lakh farmers have left farming in the state during the last one decade and if this trend was not halted it could lead the country into “severe law and order problem” besides jeopardising the national food security.
Showing deep concern over the saturation in agriculture production, the Chief Minister said that this situation could only be averted with the zealous contribution of the scientists as they pioneered the nation to pull out from the food scarcity to make it surplus in food grain production.
On the occasion, Financial Commissioner Development Punjab Suresh Kumar said the state government honoured 51 eminent scientists and experts in different fields of agriculture development and research. He said over 20,000 farmers have visited the exhibition during the summit till today. Among eminent farm scientists who were honoured included Dr GS Khush, DR Bhumbla, Dr GS Kalkat, Dr Deepak Pental, Dr. Gurbachan Singh, Dr KL Chadha. Eminent agricultural expert and MP Dr MS Swaminathan, Dr JS Kanwar, Dr VL Chopra, Dr S Ayyapan, Dr RM Acharya, among others were also honoured in absentia as they could not attend the ceremony.
On the occasion a tripartite Memorandum of Agreement amongst the Borlaug Institute of South Asia (BISA), PAU Ludhiana and the Government of Punjab was inked to initiate a collaborative work to address challenges to farm profitability and sustainability, which Punjab farmers were facing as a result of an stagnating yields, depleting water table, unsuitable climate, labour shortages and increasing fertiliser prices for wheat and maize.
The Chief Minister also released a report published by Project Coordinator Sukhmeet Singh of Indian chool of Business to analyse the potential of increase in acreage for Kinnow, Maize, Wood,Turmeric and Moong as per Draft Agriculture Policy for Punjab 2013.
This report recommended the need to revisit the entire value chain of the alternate crops from the provision of Research and Extension services to provide adequate post-harvest management infrastructure for establishing well developed marketing and distribution channels.
Later, interacting with the media persons, the Chief Minister said that keeping in view the enormous contribution of the farmers the Union government must extend loans to them at zero per cent rate of interest.