Union ministry of food processing secretary Siraj Husain, on Thursday, said Punjab was not claiming grants for setting up food processing units in the state despite the fact that it had huge scope whereas states like Maharashtra and Gujarat were making headway in the field.
He pointed out that the state had also not claimed funds in the field of agriculture research under the Rashtriya Krishi Vikas Yojana (RKVY).
Speaking on the second day of the two-day round table conference on 'Punjab-economy of tomorrow' organised by the Institute of Development Communication (IDC), Husain said, "About Rs 500 to 600 crore untied funds are at Punjab's disposal every year. The state has to decide where these funds are to be used but Punjab doesn't seem very keen."
He asked the state to commercialise agriculture like Maharashtra had done in the field of horticulture. Giving instances about how wheat millers in Punjab were forced to purchase wheat from other states for processing due to high taxation, he stressed that linkages between the farmer and the market should be made viable.
"There are three important issues in front of policy makers-direct cash transfer scheme of agriculture inputs, direct cash transfer of minimum support prices in the accounts of farmers and privatisation of food grain storage," he said.
Earlier, director of IDC, Dr Pramod Kumar, said the economy had to be diversified to create productive avenues and the focus should be on increasing productivity through technological innovations.
"The rural economy has often experienced negative growth and most of the poor and marginalised farmers in the rural hinterlands have been dislocated from their land in search of jobs," he added.