The proposal to pump in Rs 400 crore to give rise to a ‘Green Revolution’ in eastern states like Bihar and Orissa has left Punjab’s renowned economists and other experts a worried lot. They say that in the absence of an alternative package for Punjab’s farmers, who still produce the bulk of the country’s food, this could leave the state in the lurch.
“There is no package for farmers other than a two per cent rebate—from seven to five per cent—in farm loan interest rates. In the absence of any concrete step to help Punjab’s farmers, this would worsen the state’s economy,” Prof Sardara Singh Johl said.
He said the two per cent rebate will only help the rich farmers. The others, he said, are still dependent on private money lenders.
Johl doubted if the Rs 400 crore would be enough. “A green revolution does not come just like that with the announcement of Rs 400 crore. There are other factors involved,” he said.
Renowned economist Succha Singh Gill said the Centre should have given some incentives for Punjab and Haryana.
“Ignoring bulk producing states like Andhra Pradesh, western UP and Punjab and Haryana will be a mistake as the farmers in these regions are already grappling with many adverse fallouts in terms of economy and geographical degradation.”
Agri-economist Dr Sukhpal Singh of Punjab Agriculture University pointed out that no remedial incentive had been announced for the farmers adversely affected in terms of health hazards, besides economic downfall.
“Farmers now suffer from cancer and other diseases due to use of pesticides. Despite that they continue trying to increase their crop yield,” he said.
Dr Kesar Singh of the Centre for Research in Rural and Industrial Development (CRRID) also lamented that the farmers who have been producing in bulk through the Green Revolution in Punjab have been “dropped all of a sudden”.