Include pro-farmer measures in Budget: Parkash Singh Badal to Arun Jaitley

Written by PTI | Chandigarh | Updated: Jul 5 2014, 17:58pm hrs
Prakash Singh BadalSustainability of wheat-rice production system was under severe threat posing a new challenge for the future agriculture growth.
Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal today said Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley should consider introducing the renowned farm scientist M S Swaminathans formula for fixation of MSP.

He said the formula that provides for cost plus 50 per cent remuneration to the farmers as the basis of fixation of MSP for agricultural crops should be looked into during the process of finalisation of Union Budget for 2014-15.

In a letter to Jaitley, the Chief Minister impressed upon him to make agriculture far more sustainable besides ensuring no farmer was compelled to either leave this occupation or commit suicide.

He sought the Finance Minister's personal intervention for a slew of pro-farmer measures to be included in the union budget proposals.

The Chief Minister, according to official release here, felt instead of vying for mere crop diversification, greater stress should be given to agriculture diversification.

This would mean that allied activities such as dairying, fisheries and other subsidiary occupations should also be included in the agriculture diversification programme for financial assistance, it said.

Small and marginal farmers should be provided interest free short term crop loans whereas other farmers should be given crop loans at 2 per cent, and agriculture investment credit should be at 6 per cent rate of interest, Badal suggested.

In order to remove debt stress and check acts of suicides by farmers, one time debt relief package should be provided for all farmers, he said.

Like agriculture, dairy, fisheries and other subsidiary activities should also be given exemption from payment of income tax, he said.

Badal also recalled that Punjab has been the cradle of green revolution in the country.

The production technology available for wheat and rice, supported by appropriate policies and complemented with required investments and institutional infrastructure by the state, resulted in a spurt in productivity and output in a record time, Badal said.

Owing to low production risk and assured marketing of wheat and rice, about 80 per cent of the arable area came under these two crops.

The state has been contributing about 30-40 per cent foodgrains to the central pool to ensure the food security of the nation.

The Chief Minister said the production potential of the available technology of these crops had already been nearly exploited and was now almost reached plateau in growth and real farm incomes and over-exploitation of state's only available natural resources - soil and water.

The very sustainability of the wheat-rice production system was under severe threat and climate change was too posing a new challenge for the future agriculture growth, he said.

Like the earlier agricultural development, future growth would also depend on technology advancement supported by the public policies, relevant institutional changes and facilitating increased investment from the private sector as well, he said.

Badal said these measures would not only remove ever-increasing stress on agriculturists but also help to bring the sector on a path of high trajectory growth and development with the assurance of better quality living for farmers of our country.