CM nod on trial of Gujarat's cotton pickers in 10 districts
In a leap forward towards promoting cotton cultivation in the state and to check effect of rising labour costs, Punjab chief minister Parkash Singh Badal on Thursday gave nod for introducing highly mechanised cotton pickers in 53 blocks falling in 10 districts of the state's cotton belt on trial basis.Updated: Aug 01, 2013 22:19 IST
In a leap forward towards promoting cotton cultivation in the state and to check effect of rising labour costs, Punjab chief minister Parkash Singh Badal on Thursday gave nod for introducing highly mechanised cotton pickers in 53 blocks falling in 10 districts of the state's cotton belt on trial basis.
A decision to this effect was taken after a high level team from Gujarat gave demonstration regarding use of these cotton picking machines to Badal here.
"During a recent visit of Gujarat CM Narendra Modi to Punjab, I had discussed the problems being faced by the cotton cultivators in harvesting the cotton crop. Modi gave idea of replicating Gujarat experiment on using mechanised cotton pickers. We have decided to use such pickers on trail basis. We will examine the results before putting such mechanised pickers to extensive use throughout the state," Badal said. These districts include Mansa, Fazlika, ferozepur, Faridkot, Bathinda, Sangrur, Moga, Barnala and Mukatsar.
Badal was apprised with the fact that the machine could operate for eight hours during farming operations while its cost is only Rs 6,000. A farmer himself, Badal questioned the team on several factors including cost involved in re-charging the battery and convenience of the farmers in handling the machine.
"Introduction of such equipments will help us deal with shortage of migrant labour as well. Besides, the rates of labour are soaring due to big demand during the season. One such machine can give output nearly equal to five labourers. The farmer will save on labour charges so as to save on input costs," Mangal Singh Dhillon, director, agriculture department, said.
The CM asked the team to visit the state during the cotton season in February and give demonstration to the farmers regarding the operation of the machine. He said that if the machines were successful, then the state government would launch it throughout the cotton belt of the state.
Badal said that due to the exorbitant hike in costs of farming operations and squeezing margins of profit, agriculture was no longer a profitable venture. "The problems of the Punjab farmer have increased manifolds after the Centre had announced that they will not procure paddy from the state in future," he said, adding that Rs 224 crores had been sanctioned by the Centre for crop diversification.
However, Badal said that apart from assured marketing and minimum support price, thrust should be laid on mechanisation of agriculture so that the profits of the farmers could be increased.
Earlier, the chief minister also visited the local sports college to finalise the site for the construction of a special school for meritorious rural students belonging to poor families. "We have decided to set up six such schools in as many districts including Jalandhar, Ludhiana, Amritsar, SAS Nagar, Patiala and Bathinda with an intake of 1000 students each. The students obtaining 80 per cent marks or above in matric will be eligible for admission," he quipped, adding that the schools with hostel facilities would start functioning from next academic session.
Badal was accompanied by MLA Pargat Singh, Kapurthala planning committee chairman Sarabjeet Singh Makkar, Mangal Singh Dhillon, agriculture department director.