Farmers buying 20,000 tractors a year; experts say encourage cooperatives

Vehicles bought for residue management; social reasons; due to lower tractor availability with co-operative societies and attractive offers being offered on purchase, say experts
Punjab has 3,500 co-operative societies with just 1,200 tractors with societies.(HT Photo)
Punjab has 3,500 co-operative societies with just 1,200 tractors with societies.(HT Photo)
Published on Sep 20, 2020 05:22 PM IST
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Hindustan Times, Jalandhar | ByGagandeep Jassowal, Jalandhar

Ten lakh farmers in Punjab, one-third (33%) or 3.6 lakh small scale agriculturists among them, bought 20,000 new tractors every year, on average since 2016, data available with the Punjab state transport department shows. Small farmers own less than 5 acre. The cost of a tractor starts from 6 lakh, going up to 12 lakh. The numbers bought were 19,210 in 2016; 20,327 in 2017; 19,700 in 2018 and 13,645 till September 2020.

Experts claim tractors were being bought for residue management machines; social reasons; due to lower tractor availability with co-operative societies and attractive offers being offered on purchase.

State agriculture department director Sutantar Kumar Arri said, “The need of the farmers has changed. When we are providing heavy machines for residue management, naturally to deal them they requires big tractors, which is the main reason of buying new tractors. We have conveyed to the Punjab Agricultural University (PAU) to make new machines compatible with old tractors so that farmers do not bear the extra burden.”

Punjab Agricultural University principal economist Sukhpal Singh said of small farmers, 1 lakh small farmers owned tractors. “Of the small farmers who owned tractors, the maximum were under debt or were the ones who have committed suicide. Secondly, they helped the rest of their 2 lakh small farmers in the profession. Smaller farmers faced unfavourable market terms and lower profit.” He added that to prevent their suicide, at least half of the state’s villages must have tractors in co-operative societies.”

Punjab co-operative department registrar Vikas Garg said, “The state has 3,500 co-operative societies with just 1,200 tractors with societies. We have been increasing the number of tractors as per demand, with the majority added over the past 2-3 years.”

Iqbal Singh, employee of a tractor agency in Moga district, said, “Farmers preferred heavy horsepower tractors, claiming that at least 50-60hp was needed to deal with the new equipment, especially related to stubble burning.”

PAU professor, Sarabjeet Singh said social reasons prompted farmers, as they copied other richer farmers. Agricultural expert Ramandeep Singh Mann the state government needed to frame a policy or encourage co-operatives. “There are mainly social reasons behind farmers buying tractors,” he claimed.

Bharatiya Kisan Union (Dakaunda) general secretary Jagmohan Singh said newer machines, especially for crop residue management, required heavy horsepower tractors. “Banks and financial institutions have made loans easy. They are giving 6 lakh loan to a farmer, who owns just two acres. Surplus machinery is not a good trend. Farmer unions need to think about it,” he added.

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