To bail out the beleaguered peasantry of agrarian states of Punjab and Haryana from the present crisis, the Punjab chief minister Parkash Singh Badal urged the Union government that for deciding the minimum support price (MSP) of any crop, the Swaminathan’s Formula must be implemented.
Disclosing this here on Saturday, a spokesperson of the chief minister’s office said that Badal was addressing the inaugural session of the CII Agro Tech 2014, India’s premier biennial agro technology and business fair here in sector 17, where he shared the dais with Haryana chief minister Manohar Lal Khattar and the premier of Saskatchewan, Canada, Brad Wall.
Pleading the case of implementing Swaminathan’s Formula (Cost + 50% profit), Badal said it was one of the viable solution to stabilise the present crisis in agriculture economy of the country. Moreover, it was also the major issue of NDA’s agenda. Expressing full faith and confidence in the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the Punjab CM said it was the right time now when this formula could be implemented under the stewardship of Modi.
He further said Punjab, which was known as the ‘Granary of India’ with just 1.5% of the country’s total land, had always ensured India’s food security by producing almost 50% of the total food grains. He said that Punjab’s farmers have a record of pulling the country out of the era of food shortages. But in this process, they have sacrificed their vital natural resources like ground water and soil fertility that resulted in the reduction of farm income substantially. He also pointed out that the agriculture crisis in Punjab was very acute as presently farmers were under heavy debt of Rs.30, 000 crore.
Advocating for setting up of separate union budget for agriculture like railway budget, Badal said this crisis was becoming more and more serious with each passing day, as growth in agriculture was not keeping pace with other sectors of economy, adding Badal said nearly 60% of country’s population was still dependent on agriculture but its contribution to GDP has dropped to 17% that was earlier 65% in 1965-66. He further said that the debt burden on the farmers was on rise consistently compelling them to end their lives.
Seeking the central assistance for agriculture research programme and diversification, the chief minister suggested that the GoI should also invest in agricultural research and mechanization development, besides diversification, which was the major need of the hour and could only be made successful with necessary government’s support, especially in the progressive states like Punjab and Haryana. In Agro-industry sector fruit, vegetables and food processing, could also generate profit through value addition strategy but GoI must ensure proper marketing facility first.
He congratulated the CII for this noble venture and said ‘Agro Tech’ had emerged as an ideal platform for all the stakeholders in the sector to come together and deliberate upon the latest in Agriculture, in India and abroad.
On this occasion Badal also released the theme paper of CII Agro Tech 2014, inaugurated exhibition and took a round of the exhibition along with the Haryana chief minister Manohar Lal Khattar and the Premier of Saskatchewan, Canada, Brad Wall.
In his address, Brad Wall said he had series of talks with the chief ministers and officers of both Punjab and Haryana to explore the scope of bilateral cooperation in the agriculture and other sectors. Expressing high hopes in strengthening the relations between two countries he offered full support and cooperation to Punjab for initiating joint ventures in various fields like food technology, food processing, agri bio-technology, post-harvest management / handling and cold chain.