Punjab chief minister Capt Amarinder Singh on Monday told the agriculture department to impose a crackdown on the sale of spurious pesticides and seeds to cotton farmers.
The department has been directed to ensure that only 33 approved varieties of seeds are sold in the state at monitored prices to prevent loss of crop on this account.
The CM, who chaired a review meeting of the department here, instructed the officials to coordinate with the neighbouring Haryana to ensure that the same quality seeds are available and sown in the region. The department officials were also asked to explore the possibility of tying up with an existing commodities exchange or set up their own exchange for future trading of commodities like potato and cotton to ensure guaranteed sale of these products and save the farmers from distress selling.
Amarinder said he would write to Prime Minister Narendra Modi to seek deficiency price support from the Centre to compensate the farmers for the loss incurred as a result of the differential between the market price of Rs 1,100 per quintal and the government’s minimum support price (MSP) of Rs 1,300 per quintal for maize. Though the central government declares the MSP for maize, it does not buy the produce directly .
Finance minister Manpreet Badal; chief secretary Karan Avtar Singh; financial commissioner, development; Punjab Agricultural University (PAU) vice chancellor; and director, agriculture were among those present in the meeting. The CM expressed concern over the declining cotton yields in the state as a result of whitefly infections, and suggested to the PAU to explore possibilities of introducing better quality Egyptian and Australian cotton varieties to enhance the profitability of farmers.
Referring to cotton as the ‘white gold’ of southern Malwa region, the CM underlined the need to educate the farmers on reducing use of insecticides and pesticides. He directed the officials to initiate a programme to ensure sale and application of only PAU-approved pesticides and recognised seeds.
It was decided to appoint deputy commissioners as nodal officers to coordinate the anti-whitefly efforts between the various departments such as the agriculture and PWD, Mandi Board and panchayats, and monitor the campaign on a weekly basis, said an official spokesperson.