IEP Chandigarh, March 30
Describing crop diversification as the critical necessity for the state, thePunjab Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann on Thursday gave a clarion call to the farmers for a paradigm shift in agriculture by adopting alternative crops like Cotton, Basmati and Moong. In a video message to the farmers of the state, the Chief Minister said several crops were grown on the fertile land of state but gradually the farmers of the state confined them to paddy only. He said that this has adversely effected the topography of the state in terms of excessive power consumption, depletion of water table as most the blocks had gone in extreme dark zone, pollution due burning of stubble and others. Bhagwant Mann said that to tackle this the need of hour is adopt alternative crops adding that a high level committee headed by Chief Secretary of the state has also recommended the adoption of these crops. The Chief Minister said that due to this the state government is adopting it in a big way. He accorded guarantee to provide canal water for cotton crop from April 1 and announced 33% subsidy on cotton seeds certified by Punjab Agricultural University (PAU) besides to provide insurance on cotton crop and MSP on Basmati. Expressing grave concern on various menaces posed by paddy, Bhagwant Mann said that the state government’s firm belief to increase area under cotton cultivation will check the problem from its roots due to which they have decided to provide canal water from April 1 for cotton. The Chief Minister said that Deputy Commissioners and Senior Superintendents of Police have been instructed to depute Police force for checking theft of water so that farmers at tail end can be benefitted. Bhagwant Mann said that farmers had also raised the issue of canal water theft by affluent people during first of its kind ‘Farmers-Kisan Milni’ after which the state government had decided to check it with heavy hand. He envisioned that this will help in producing good quality cotton adding he requested the farmers to avoid use of spurious seeds. Speaking about the other steps to promote crop diversification, the Chief Minister announced a 33% subsidy on cotton seeds certified by PAU Ludhiana thereby the high yielding seeds will be available at cheaper rates for farmers. He said that preventive measures were also being taken to check the attack of White fly and Pink Worm. Bhagwant Mann emphasised that the state government has decided to conduct comprehensive research on new insecticide and pesticides to control these problems. Reiterating his commitment for safeguarding interests of farmers from all natural calamities, the Chief Minister also announced that the state government is mulling to cover the cotton crop loss under a Insurance Scheme so that the farmers didn’t face any hardships regarding this. He further said that Basmati to be promoted as the other crop of diversification and assured Minimum Support Price (MSP) on this crop. Bhagwant Mann said that the Markfed will be the nodal agency to procure Basmati on MSP adding that the interests of farmers will be secured by all means. The Chief Minister said that laboratories are also being set up to inform the farmers about the quantity of insecticides to be used on Basmati so that its crop meet the export standards of European countries pertaining to pest residues. Recommending the cultivation of PR 126 & other similar varieties of paddy, he said that special emphasis is being given to promote PAU certified varieties and discourage the water guzzling varieties such as PUSA 44 which take ample time for harvesting. Bhagwant Mann also said that MSP will be continued on Moong but the recent researches showed that the white fly problem arises on Moong Crop and this problem have moved on cotton from Moong so he suggested the farmers not to cultivate Moong in Mansa, Bathinda, Mukatsar Sahib, Fazilka districts. Meanwhile, Bhagwant Mann said that 2500 Kisan Mittars will be deputed along with 100 Agriculture experts of PAU to update farmers about these menaces.