Ludhiana, September 23:
Punjab Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann today said that the state is fully ready to adopt crop diversification but the Government of India must provide assured mechanism to give remunerative prices for these crops.
“The centre must take this step for ensuring that farmers of the state shift from water guzzling crops to less water consuming crops”, said the Chief Minister while addressing a gathering after inaugurating the Kisan Mela here at Punjab Agriculture University and Pashu Palan Mela at Guru Angad Dev Veterinary and Animal Sciences University.
The Chief Minister said that instead of paddy, the farmer of the state is ready to sow sunflower, maize and pulses but for that they must get adequate and assured price. He said that this will help in checking the depleting water table in the state on one hand and making agriculture a profitable venture on the other. Bhagwant Mann said that this is the need of hour to avert water crisis in the state.
The Chief Minister said that the farmers of the state are really worried about the depleting water table and pollution of environment due to paddy straw burning. However, he said that they are not able to come out of rut of wheat/ paddy cycle as they don’t want to loose assured price mechanism associated with it. Bhagwant Mann said that Punjab is blessed with fertile land where anything can germinate but efforts must be made to save this fertile land and it’s water.
However, the Chief Minister said that the crisis of water can never be ignored as we are pumping out water at the same depth in which Gulf countries are taking oil, which is alarming for us. He said that rice is not our staple food but for producing one kilogram of rice we are using 4000 litres of water due to which we have to adopt alternative crops. Bhagwant Mann said that the state government is already making sincere efforts in this regard.
Recalling the immense contribution of Punjab in making country self reliant in food grain production, the Chief Minister said that the hard working and resilient farmers of the state had provided food security to country in testing times. However, he said that for this they had to over exploit their only available natural resources in terms of fertile land and water. Bhagwant Mann bemoaned that now when few more states are producing are paddy so attempts are being made to deprive farmers of Punjab from MSP, which is completely unfair.
The Chief Minister said that Union government imports pulses worth Rs 120 billion dollar annually from Other countries whereas it is not ready to provide Minimum Support price to farmers of the state who are ready to cultivate it. He said that in coming days an important decision will be taken to get rid of the menace of paddy straw burning. Bhagwant Mann said that it was duty of Union government to find solution for it as farmers produce rice for the country.
The Chief Minister said that paddy goes in national food kitty but centre asks states to tighten noose around farmers to prevent paddy straw burning. He asked the experts of PAU to reach out to the farmers to acquaint them with new technology in agriculture sector. Bhagwant Mann said that farmers work hard in fields and have no time for upgrading their expertise adding that experts must reach out to the farmers to make agriculture a profitable venture.
The Chief Minister also asked PAU to intensify research and bring a new revolution in agriculture through technical interventions. He further said that to promote Dairy the Punjab government is promoting Verka, which is renowned globally, to supplement income of farmers. Bhagwant Mann also said that thrust is also being laid on proper marketing of Pathankot’s Litchi and Kinnow of Abohar.
The Chief Minister also called on the farmers to reduce the expenditure on marriages as it poses huge economic burden on the families whereas marriages must be solemnised in simple way. He reiterated the firm commitment of his government to make Punjab a drug free state. Bhagwant Mann said that the state government is taking strict action in this regard.
On the occasion Agriculture Minister Kuldeep Singh Dhaliwal recalled stellar role of PAU in agriculture sector. He also appealed the farmers to refrain from burning paddy straw.
The Chief Minister also felicitated the progressive farmers on the occasion. The Vice Chancellor of PAU Dr Satbir Singh Gosal and Vice Chancellor of Guru Angad Dev Veterinary and Animal Sciences University Dr Inderjeet Singh honoured the Chief Minister.
Prominent amongst others present on the occasion included Animal Husbandary Minister Laljeet Singh Bhullar, Additional Chief Secretary to CM A Venuprasad, Additional Chief Secretary Agriculture Sarvjeet Singh and others.