Agri expert blames rising production cost, indebtedness for farmer suicides | punjab$regional-takes | Hindustan Times
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Agri expert blames rising production cost, indebtedness for farmer suicides

Punjab agriculture expert group chairman Dr T Haque has blamed rising cost of production and indebtedness for farmer suicides in the state.

punjab Updated: Apr 24, 2017 10:37 IST
Navneet Sharma
Haque, who is former chairman of the Commission for Agricultural Costs and Prices (CACP), said Punjab farmers are relatively better off than those in other states, but there is a farm crisis in the state.
Haque, who is former chairman of the Commission for Agricultural Costs and Prices (CACP), said Punjab farmers are relatively better off than those in other states, but there is a farm crisis in the state. (HT Illustration )

Punjab agriculture expert group chairman Dr T Haque has blamed rising cost of production and indebtedness for farmer suicides in the state.

Haque, who is former chairman of the Commission for Agricultural Costs and Prices (CACP), said Punjab farmers are relatively better off than those in other states, but there is a farm crisis in the state. “The way the cost of production is increasing, the returns are not there. The farmers and the state governments want much more than what is being given. They do not get credit from banks and cooperatives and have to borrow from private moneylenders,” he told Hindustan Times over phone.

Haque said these serious issues have resulted in a distressing situation leading to farmer suicides, which have gone up in the state, particularly in the south-west Punjab, in recent years. The former CACP chairman heads the expert group set by the Captain Amarinder Singh-led Congress government to assess the quantum of agriculture debt in the state, and suggest ways and means for its waiver. Pramod Kumar Joshi, director-South Asia, International Food Policy Research Institute and BS Dhillon, vice-chancellor of Punjab Agricultural University, Ludhiana, are the other members of the group.

The Congress had, in its election manifesto, pledged waiver of loans of farmers and farm labourers on coming to power in the state. While the BJP, which had also made a similar promise in Uttar Pradesh, has already decided to waive crop loans of up to ₹1 lakh of small and marginal farmers, the Punjab CM has sought experts’ advice before finalising his loan waiver plan.

Haque said the expert group, which plans to hold its first meeting next week, would look at the extent of agricultural debt, credit flow and its tenure, economic condition of farmers and the state’s fiscal position before making any recommendations regarding remission of farm loans and ways and means to raise resources for it.

Asked about the lack of adequate returns, he said there is minimum support price (MSP), but the question is whether it is remunerative or not. “The cost of production varies from state to state. For paddy, it is different in Punjab as compared to Bihar and Andhra Pradesh. The MSP may be good for some and not adequate for others. There is need to look at incentive price,” he said.