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Initiatives to improve economic condition of farmers urgently needed
Farmers in Punjab are going through serious crisis, and are committing suicides as well just like their counterparts in several other areas of the country. There are number of reasons for this state of affairs.

Despite an increase in demand of food grains, the farmers are not getting the reasonable increase in the minimum support price. The government is even importing the food grains frequently. One of the major reasons for decrease in the production is use of chemical fertilizers, which reduces the fertility of the land.

Another major factor is loss of food grain every year to the extent of 15 per cent due to rotting on account of storage in unscientific way. India lacks covered storage space, and Dr. Swaminathan in one of his reports, has proposed that storage space may be created at 150 centres or we may switch over to silos.

According to another agriculture expert, a retire District Manager, D K Sahi from Punjab State Cooperative Marketing Federation, one of the largest cooperative institution in the Asia and popularly known as MARKFED, our country, if we talk particularly about Punjab, it does not have a long term plan of scientific storage. Since setting up of ‘silos’ is a costly affair, we must go in for covered storage space at different places to save the stocks.

Punjab is also known as the food basket of India and keeping it full is only possible if we preserve the stocks scientifically at least for one year, till the arrival of next crops. For the purpose, we have to invite the private-public entrepreneurs to construct the covered scientific storage godowns.

According to another study, the storage charges being given to the owners are too less as against the investment on construction of godowns including the cost of land.  One cannot repay the loan to the bank over heavy investment with the meager storage charges being paid. The storage charges need to be revised in proportion to the investment keeping in view the minimum life span of the building and its renovation from time to time.

The other factor involved is natural calamities which are beyond one’s control, and one has to bow before the orders of nature. At the same time, the government is a total failure on the front of crop diversification which helps in increasing the production and fertility of the land. The farmers are not switching over to the crop diversification as there are no arrangements made by the government for the marketing of the products other than wheat, paddy, and sugarcane. To attract farmers towards crop-diversification, they have to be given some allurement by way of subsidy or incentives.

In fact, the private companies like Nestle, Monsento and Kargil enjoy monopoly in the agriculture sector and are exploiting the farmers’ community. The contract farming has totally been a failure proposition on the part of the government as the private companies were giving much higher price than the government. This created a hurdle in filling the food basket of India to its full capacity.

About five decades back, 90 per cent population of the country was dependent on agriculture.  Presently, about 60 per cent of population is residing in rural areas but some percentage of this are having their earning from the urban areas where they have established their small business houses.  It appears that in the coming few years, the percentage of people dependent on agriculture would further be reduced.

The government must take initiative to improve the economic condition of farmers, people living in the rural areas apart from switching over to crop diversification, making arrangements for the marketing of produce of the farmers, taking care of the water level under the ground, tie-up with multi-national companies to procure the produce of the farmers at the reasonable rates, one time settle of interest on loans of the farmers.

The state governments have to come up with policies by studying at the root-levels to pass on the benefits of the approved schemes to the real beneficiaries. Merely winning the election and completing the full term is not the qualification of good ruling political party, but improving the economic condition of the people is.

Editorial NOTE: This article is categorized under Opinion Section. The views expressed in this article are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of merinews.com. In case you have a opposing view, please click here to share the same in the comments section.
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