Though state agriculture department’s director Mangal Singh Sandhu have been arrested by the police for his alleged involvement in the supply of spurious pesticides to cotton farmers of districts in Malwa district, but several cotton and farmers of other crops are of the view that along with him stringent action should also be taken against the minister of agriculture Tota Singh under whose leadership this scam took place.
Echoing their views at Punjab Agricultural University (PAU) campus and at various mandis in the district not all wanted to reveal their identities but made it clear that if such officials continue to exist in agriculture, farmers will continue to suffer and farming may never be able to make any progress.
“Punjabis across the world the state of agriculture and farmers in Punjab which is why Tota Singh was welcomed with shoes and empty water bottles this year in New York. Different newspapers have already reported that director of agriculture’s statement that he while ordering pesticides had consulted minister of agriculture, so why spare Tota Singh? He should be questioned by the state government and may be even expelled so that in future no minister thinks of playing with farmers”, lamented a group of farmers.
Piyara Singh, a farmer from Bathinda district stated that despite suicides in farming community are common, state department of agriculture did not have any sympathy or fear in their minds in buying pesticide of inferior quality for farmers of their very own state. On the other hand another farmer Balkar Singh from Sri Muktsar Sahib district added, “Next year, very few farmers will cultivate cotton and on top of this, farmers will not trust agriculture department of the state at all. Majority of us already have no hopes at all neither from the department nor from Punjab Agricultural University.”
A group of farmers seeking anonymity also said, “PAU has also failed to help the cotton farmers. At every kisan mela the experts just give monotonous lectures that too without enthusiasm. Why officials of the government including CM Parkash Singh Badal not question even the officials at the varisty? But for now, looking at the sad state cotton farmers, minister of agriculture must also be expelled.”
“Punjab government may have now announced compensation of Rupees 8,000 for per acre of cotton field due to crop damage by attack of white fly but it is not going to help much as farmers have already spent a lot on pesticides for killing the white fly. What about the amount spent already? Why has the Punjab government ignored it? Moreover, the pesticides most farmers used was suggested by the state department of agriculture which bought inferior quality and did not help at all”, said a farming union leader requesting anonymity.
Meanwhile, agri experts say that from next year onwards, area under cotton may decline as cotton farmers are extremely demotivated.