Badal moots budgetary provision for crop diversification
Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal today demanded a special budgetary provision in the next Union Budget for diversification of agriculture in the North West states for Punjab on the similar pattern of economic package to boost agriculture in the eastern states in the country.
The Chief Minister met Union Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar in New Delhi this evening and sought the centre's come support and co-operation for giving impetus to the much needed agriculture diversification programme in the state as the traditional wheat/paddy cycle was no more profitable due to the squeezed margins on account of high agriculture inputs and low MSP.
Mr Badal urged the Union Minister that it was high time that the Centre came forward to bail out the beleaguered peasantry by incentivising the promotion of the cultivation of alternative crops to paddy and wheat adding that this was not merely a problem of Punjab but must be viewed in a broad perspective as national problem.
The Chief Minister emphasised the need to immediately launch a technology mission for 'Diversification of Agriculture in Green Revolution Areas' with an allocation of Rs 5,000 crore for 12th Five Year Plan period, on the pattern of the mission for 'Bringing Green Revolution to the Eastern India'.
He underscored the need for diversification away from the production of food crops mainly rice, which was utmost necessary to sustainably manage he natural resource base and to adjust to the changes taking place in the domestic demand and supply of food grains.
Outlining the diversification programme, the Chief Minister apprised Mr Pawar that the state government had planned to reduce the area under paddy from 28 to 16 lakh hectares in a phased manner over a period of six years.
It was purposed to shift this area to Maize (four lakh hectare), Cotton (two lakh hectare), Sugarcane (1.5 lakh hectare), Fodder (1.5 lakh hectare), Agro Forestry (two lakh hectare), Pulses and Fruits and Vegetable (one lakh hectare).
The Chief Minister impressed upon Mr Pawar to provide remunerative MSP coupled with assured marketing mechanism for the alternate crops especially Maize as the Punjab Government was seriously contemplating to enhance the present area under Maize cultivation from 1.5 to 5.5 lakh hectare.