Stop free electricity to agriculture, take to horticulture, Montek at PAU
Addressing a gathering of faculty members at Pal Auditorium, Ahluwalia added, “Agriculture was not the central focus of Central planning in the past, but industry and construction of dams was.”punjab Updated: Mar 10, 2018 13:57 IST
A ‘plough to plate’ approach, diversification from cereals to horticulture crops, curbing fertiliser subsidy and stopping free electricity to agriculture over five years was the recipe for transformational change in Indian agriculture that former deputy chairman of planning commission, Montek Singh Ahluwalia, outlined during his visit to Punjab Agricultural University on Friday.
Addressing a gathering of faculty members at Pal Auditorium, Ahluwalia added, “Agriculture was not the central focus of Central planning in the past, but industry and construction of dams was. Now, there is a need to consider rationing of water by stopping free electricity and curbing subsidy on fertiliser over five years.” He added that the lack of a risk-mitigating system in agriculture was one of the chief causes of farm distress.
“From 2004-2011, there was an increase in farm income. The factors responsible were better land productivity, supportive prices for farmers, boom in construction investment and increase in farm product prices,” he added.
Specifically for Punjab, he added that diversification to maize would be an important change. “Dairy will also have to emerge as a major area, if the Punjab chief minister’s objective of getting farmers out of paddy is to be achieved,” he said, adding that integrated value chains must be developed to ensure the entire process from ‘Plough to Plate’ worked seamlessly.
“Research is also important. We need to think about institutional structures and vested interests that deny flexibility to the academia to do ground-breaking research,” he said. On the issue of genetically modified (GM) crops, he called for more clarity and a shift in attitude. “We don’t want to be negatively unique in the world, given the high degree of threat of climate change that looms ahead of us,’ he said.
There is a need to consider rationing of water by stopping free electricity and curbing subsidy on fertiliser over five years.
Montak Singh Ahluwalia, former
deputy chairman of planning commission