No space for small farmers in politics, rues Punjab’s award-winning innovator | punjab | Hindustan Times
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No space for small farmers in politics, rues Punjab’s award-winning innovator

Doing well with just 3 acres, Jinder Singh can inspire the small farmers of Punjab to diversify. But he finds no policy for their survival.

punjab Updated: Sep 28, 2016 21:34 IST
Prabhjit Singh
Jinder Singh, winner of Pandit Deendayal Upadhyaya Krishi Puraskar for diversification, alleges lack of political will to bring Punjab’s peasantry out of misery.
Jinder Singh, winner of Pandit Deendayal Upadhyaya Krishi Puraskar for diversification, alleges lack of political will to bring Punjab’s peasantry out of misery.(Anil Dayal/HT Photo)

Doing well with just three acres, Jinder Singh can inspire the small farmers of Punjab to diversify. But he finds no policy for their survival.

“I do fine but how can small farmers sustain, grow, and get out of misery without a state policy?” the diversification hero who received Pandit Deendayal Upadhyaya Krishi Puraskar from the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) said. “Those diversifying (from the wheat-paddy cycle) do so at their own peril. With limited resources, it’s a risk.”

The Rupnagar innovator credits his success to “my own hard work”. Eight years ago, all he had was a week’s training from the local Krishi Vigyan Kendra (KVK) of the agriculture department. “Any ordinary farmer will hesitate to diversify, and rightly so,” he said. “He lives hand to mouth and under debt. A single crop loss while experimenting can be disaster for him, since there is no backup.”

FARM ECONOMICS

Jinder has devoted a couple of his 3 acres to horticulture and the rest to paddy this kharif (monsoon crop) season. Growing capsicum, chilli, tomato, onion, and spinach fetches him Rs 1.25 lakh profit from each acre. So From 2-acre horticulture field, he gains Rs 2.5 lakh in the season. Yes, after excluding all the input cost.

Capsicum and cucumber from his 4-kanal-plus greenhouse fetch him a third more than the market price for these vegetables. In 2007, he tried greenhouse nets after picking up the technique at the KVK camp. Thereafter, he explored farm technology, became active member of Punjab Agricultural University’s farmers’ club, and took training at Pune in 2011.

SIMPLE LIFESTYLE

Jinder, a baptised Sikh, blames Punjab farmers’ “casual lifestyle” for their misery. “Materialism, alcoholism, and drug abuse took them down.”

“Besides providing farmers with logistic support, the government also must deal with drug addiction and exploitation of the poor,” he said. “The Punjabi life used to be so simple. Now we have put a price tag on everything, whether marriage, education or healthcare. Our greed and desire to ape the rich are the sources of our problems.”

‘SEARCHING FOR POLITICAL SPACE’

“Punjab’s political leadership is from the big-landlord class, so there’s no space for marginal farmers in panchayats,” Jinder Singh said. “How do we have a system for small farmers in place when they are not the stakeholders in power?

He regretted that kisan leaders such as Ajmer Singh Lakhowal and Balbir Singh Rajewal had “leaned gradually towards the government”, and agricultural trade unions had split into factions.