In a bid to transform the lives of farmers, the Punjab Government led by Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh has taken slew of path-breaking initiatives besides extending a helping hand to the beleaguered farming community and giving a big push towards crop diversification during its three years tenure in the office.
The state government is ever committed to bail out the farming community already grappling with acute agrarian crisis since agriculture is the mainstay of Punjab’s economy and the agricultural backbone of India. Punjab alone contributes about 19% of wheat, 11% of rice, 5% of cotton, 10% of milk, 20% of honey and 48% of mushrooms grown in the country.
Fulfilling its one of the major promises with the state farmers immediately after taking the reins in March 2017, Captain Amarinder Singh Government gave a debt relief worth Rs. 4624 crore to 5.64 lac small and marginal farmers indebted to cooperative and commercial banks. Besides, nearly one lac such more farmers would be extended debt relief shortly. Taking its pro-farmer stance way forward, Captain Amarinder Singh has also announced his Government’s commitment to provide debt relief worth Rs. 520 crore to 2.85 lac farm labourers and landless farmers of the coop. societies.
The state government also honoured another promise to amend Section 67-A of Cooperative Societies Act to prevent Kurki of farmers for default on cooperative loans thereby giving a much needed relief to them. Likewise, compensation in lieu of crop damage (Kharaba) has also been increased from Rs. 8000 to Rs. 12,000 per acre to mitigate the hardships of the farmers.
On procurement operations, Captain Amarinder Singh Government has ensured six seamless procurements of paddy and wheat in line with its ever top priority which led to an additional remuneration of Rs. 44,000 crore, an unprecedented achievement for our farmers.
Giving the highest priority to the agriculture diversification under the visionary leadership of Captain Amarinder Singh, the state government has chalked out a time bound action plan of crop diversification to encourage farmers to come out of the rut of paddy-wheat rotation. Apart from this, nearly three lac hectares of paddy area would be brought under maize for which a budgetary allocation of Rs. 200 crore has already been made in the budget for year 2020-21.
Intensifying its endeavour towards crop diversification for promotion of horticulture, fruit estates are being established at Verka (Pear Estate), Sujanpur (Litchi Estate), Wazidpur (Guava Estate) and Faridkot (Horticulture Estate). Work is also in full swing at upcoming Centre of Excellence for Floriculture at Doraha in Ludhiana district.
Effective steps taken by the state government have ensured that about 6.84 lac acres under paddy cultivation are shifted to other kharif crops like cotton, maize and basmati. Another 7 lac acres have been planned to be shifted from paddy in the coming season. This measure will judiciously restore the water balance in the state.
A pilot project of Direct Benefit Transfer of Electricity (DBTE) for agriculture consumers under the banner of ‘Panni Bachao, PaiseKamao’ scheme has now been extended to 11 districts to incentivize farmers to use less water and make monetary savings.
The Chief Minister has already reiterated that free power would not be withdrawn to the farmers at any cost till his government is in power. A total allocation of Rs 12,526 crore has been made for agriculture and allied sectors in the budget, constituting a major share of Rs 8,275 crore for power subsidy in farm sector. In another pro-farmer decision, the government has slashed ‘mandi fee’ levied on the sale and purchase of fruits and vegetables from four to one per cent.
To strengthen the rural link roads, the State Government has spent Rs. 3227 crore for the repair of 28,765 km of link roads of which 20934 km have been repaired whereas the repair of remaining 7831 km will be completed by June 30, 2020, which would immensely benefit the commuters especially the state farmers. Further, 960 culverts/bridges on the village link roads have also been upgraded at a cost of Rs. 215 crore and another 6162 km link roads would be repaired at a cost of Rs. 834 crore during 2020-21. Under Mandi Development Program involving an expenditure of Rs. 692 crore, as many as 151-principal yards, 284-sub yards and 1395-purchase centres would be upgraded by June 30, 2020 to ensure better facilities for marketing of farmers produce.