People's Party of Punjab (PPP) chief Manpreet Singh Badal on Monday demanded compensation at the rate of Rs 20,000 per acre for damage to the cotton crop.
He said that the state government must own responsibility for not maintaining quality standards of inputs. "The farmers have suffered damage for the third year in succession. The much-hyped Bt cotton has failed the farmers. The situation was aggravated by the lack of government control over the quality of seeds and pesticides, which were found to be substandard and spurious. The state government is providing subsidy to seed-supplying companies, but there was no proper qualitative check. Ultimately, it was the farmer who was the sufferer," he said.
The PPP chief maintained that the compensation should not only cover the cost of production, but also take care of the profit margin as this was not the first year of damage and successive crop losses had added to the debt burden as manifested in the increasing incidence of suicides by farmers.
He said the state government had initiated the usual exercise of ordering girdawari to assess the damage, but the major issue was of not only of compensation just to neutralise the expenditure on inputs but to make the farmer survive.
He demanded an inquiry by an independent agency into the supply of substandard seeds and other inputs, including pesticides as maintaining quality control was the job of the state government, but it had failed the farmers.
He said the state government had been talking of crop diversification, but the problem in Punjab was the farmers opted for alternative crops like cotton and sugarcane and suffering heavily. The situation was the worst in the case of the small and marginal farmers as they had no alternative to look up to.