Punjab farmers face Rs 1,000 per acre rise in paddy input cost as diesel rates up
From Rs 57 a litre in May 2017, the fuel, essential to level land and prepare it for paddy using a tractor, now costs nearly Rs 70 a litre in the state, a hike of 23%. Each acre of paddy cultivation requires 70-100 litre as input, so the increase in per acre input cost will be Rs 1,000.Updated: Jun 01, 2018 13:51 IST
Even as the central government is not shy of proclaiming its intent to double farmers’ income by 2022, the reality on the ground is that farmers are strapped with having to bear at least 25% hike in their input cost for paddy this year. This is due to the runaway hike in prices of just one input, diesel.
From Rs 57 a litre in May 2017, the fuel, essential to level land and prepare it for paddy using a tractor, now costs nearly Rs 70 a litre in the state, a hike of 23%. Each acre of paddy cultivation requires 70-100 litre as input, so the increase in per acre input cost will be Rs 1,000.
Karamjeet Singh, from Sukhan Wala village in Faridkot, said, “I sow paddy in 24 acre and need 1,600 litre during the paddy season. From Rs 90,000 I spent on diesel last year, my cost this year will be at least Rs 1.15 lakh (25% hike). There will be a big dent in profit.” Jaskaran Singh, who will sow paddy in 18 acres, said farmers suffered a similar shock in 2014 when diesel prices had risen to Rs 56 from Rs 49 in 2013.
‘MSP increase wiped out’
Saying that such a huge spike in input cost wipes out any increase in Minimum Support Price (MSP) that anyway was meagre, Charanjit Singh, president, Bharatiya Kisan Union, said, “Last time, the paddy MSP was increased was in 2014 and that too was Rs 200 per quintal. Farmers were paid Rs 1,700 per quintal last year.Compare that with the price a consumer pays and you can see the problem.” He added that the Centre must implement the recommendations of the Swaminanthan Commission.
Experts back farmers
Renowned agriculture economist Sardara Singh Johl added, “The diesel price hike will certainly increase the input cost of paddy and other crops too. Diesel is required for tractors during the puddling of the soil, before sowing.”
He added, “Nobody knows whether diesel prices will come down by June 15, before sowing. There may even be a diesel price hike during the paddy season as rates are now linked to the international market.”
“We have been advising farmers to opt for short-term varieties of paddy like PR-124, PR-126, PR-127 that could help them rein in input costs. With the monsoon expected on July 1, the extra cost will be reduced,” said Jagdish Grover, associate director, PAU’s Krishi Vigyan Kendra in Faridkot.