Agriculture minister Tota Singh has suggested that the union government should provide a consolidated Rs-500 per quintal direct bonus to farmers on their produce instead of giving piecemeal packages to debt-ridden peasantry.
Tota Singh and former DGP Paramdeep Singh Gill were in Moga to distribute appointment letters to 100 Safai Sewaks, who were protesting against the civic body authorities over the issue for the last four days.
"The Punjab government would demand direct bonus on crops for debt-ridden farmers for the current season of wheat. Direct bonus is the only solution to problems confronting farmers of the state. I have requested chief minister Parkash Singh Badal to meet Prime Minister Manmohan Singh over the issue," he said.
The agriculture minister said prices of farm inputs have been raised by 110% to 130% since 1966, but remuneration for wheat and paddy has been increased by 45%, only. "If the prices are linked to same index directly, farmers should be given Rs 8,000 per quintal for wheat as of now."
The state government does not demand any special package for farmers as it is just eyewash and only benefits banks, he said. "Moreover, norms and conditions of such packages do not allow farmers to get listed under the facility, as different farmers have different economic conditions and had paid some amount of debt time to time."
The Centre will have to pay just Rs 6,000 crore to Punjab for wheat as direct bonus as Punjab will purchase 12,000 crore quintal of wheat for current rabi season, the agriculture minister said. Farmers of Punjab would get Rs 17,000 per quintal after including direct bonus, he added.
Tota Singh suggested that the union government should come forward to decrease the cost for agriculture produce especially for wheat and paddy. "It should provide special subsidy on fertilisers, tractor loan, diesel and other raw materials for Punjab at least for three years. Farmers will be able to improve their economic condition during this period," he said.