'Rise in agricultural machinery burdening farming sector'
To solve various concerns of farmers and farming sector, especially making farmers debt free, saving their money and addressing the unemployment amongst agricultural labour, which is intensifying with passage of time, experts from the Punjab Agricultural University (PAU) suggest that both state and central government must avoid too many subsidies on agricultural machinery, as it is one of the core reasons behind these concerns.
Talking to HT, experts revealed that as farmers go on buying agricultural machinery, it puts a lot of financial pressure on their pockets and makes many labourers jobless. This pressure even leads to taking loans from banks and commission agents that often results to making farmers debt ridden, they said.
MS Toor, a senior economist from the department of economics, PAU, said, “Offering subsidies on various kind of farm machinery may seem that these subsidies are for saving farmers’ money, but in reality it is boosting the corporate sector, which is getting richer day-by-day, while the farmers who keep buying machines on subsidised rates are later left with no money in hand.
Toor said, “Both farmers and the government must understand that our country is labour intensive. In other words, we have enough labour for work due to which machinery can be given a back seat. Earlier, most farming was done manually and there were no such issues as farming is facing today.”
“But, with green revolution and birth of new high-yield varieties that require assured irrigation, tubewells came up followed by many other new resources that went on changing the face of agriculture, but with advancing time many problems have appeared,” he said.
Toor said, “Owning tractor is a social status among farmers even when they know that sharing can reduce their expenses. A farmer should buy a tractor only if it has to be used for 1,000 hours in a year otherwise it is not required and can be shared from village cooperative society or from another farmer friend. But, they go on buying as subsides lure them,” Toor said.
Sukhpal Singh, head of economics and sociology department, PAU, said, “There is a need for government to promote the much-needed labour intensive model in the agriculture sector or address the concerns that bother this sector.”
“From the previous farmers suicides survey conducted between 2000 till March 2011 by three state universities, a total of 6,926 deaths were reported, of which 3,954 were farmers and 2,972 were agricultural labourers and about 70% of them took this step due to debts. So, it is time to think deep and help ourselves however we can,” Singh said.