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Saturday, October 24th, 2020

Justifies need for giving subsidies to the farmers

parkash singh badalINVC, Chandigarh, Punjab Chief Minister Mr. Parkash Singh Badal today mooted a proposal to form a working group of members of Commonwealth nations with a permanent headquarters in the state to create a mechanism for the exchange of ideas, experiences and future strategies. In his keynote address during the inauguration of three days Commonwealth Parliamentary Association (CPA) workshop for Chairpersons and Members of Parliamentary Agriculture Committees for India, Asia and South East Asia regions here at Punjab Vidhan Sabha this morning, the Chief Minister said that countries taking part in this conference had almost similar social-economic conditions and were confronted with nearly similar challenges. He sought cooperation and support from the Lok Sabha Speaker Mrs. Sumitra Mahajan for establishing a permanent Headquarter of CPA in Punjab, the state known for the most advanced agriculture practices on one hand and its enormous contribution in the country's food bowl by making it self reliant in food production on the other. Pleading for ameliorating the lot of beleaguered peasantry in the entire region, the Chief Minister hoped that the deliberations during this conference would be extremely result oriented paving the way for closer cooperation in agriculture at all levels. Mr. Badal said that he was sure that the discussions in this workshop would surely go a long way in enhancing understanding amongst people of different countries and offering solutions to the vexed agriculture scenario to make it economically viable and self sustainable. Dwelling on the Indian agriculture scenario, the Chief Minister said that our national economy was predominantly agrarian in nature, with more than 60% of its population still relying on farming but unfortunately the share of agriculture in national income had been constantly falling. In 1965-66, 65% population depended on agriculture and contributed almost 65% of GDP however now nearly 60% population was still dependent on agriculture but its contribution to GDP had drastically dropped to 17%. He pointed out that in India, a system of Minimum Support Price (MSP) for assured marketing was initiated to increase productivity for meeting nation's food needs. Even in the most advanced countries governments provide liberal income support to save their agriculture economy. Referring to the plight of farmers, the Chief Minister justified the need for giving incentives to them as they were at receiving end because the economic condition of majority of them in several countries was pitiable due to non-remunerative and diminishing returns. Moreover in India, Agriculture was faced with shrinking land holdings, depleting water resources and deteriorating soil health whereas input cost have been rising sharply thus the prices of farm produce were not keeping pace with the shooting costs. Mr. Badal said, "We in Punjab had made humble efforts through giving free power for Tube wells to incentivize our hard working and resilient farmers despite severe criticism from different quarters including media. We are of the firm view that this must continue to bail our distressed farmers from current agrarian crisis". Substantiating his affirmation on this count, the Chief Minister even referred to his conversation on the dais with Speaker of Bangladesh and Chairperson of CPA Dr. Shirin Sharmin Chaudhary of extending similar incentives to their farmers in Bangladesh. She said India and Bangladesh could forge alliances for sharing their expertise and technological skills in the agriculture and allied sectors to mutually adopt the most advanced and scientific agri practices. Punjab Deputy Chief Minister Mr. Sukhbir Singh Badal in his address laid stress on the role of parliamentary agricultural committees in formulating policies and giving directions to sustain agricultural production besides creating a check on the excessive use of pesticides and fertilizers. Giving a brief account of contribution made by Punjab and its farmers in making India self reliant in food production, Mr. Badal described the sacrifices made by Punjab peasantry for enhancing agricultural production. He said that for Punjab farmers crops were alike to their kids and despite natural calamities they never let the fall in agricultural yield. Mr. Badal said that in India, agricultural was never considered as priority sector. He added that if you look at any budget least amount was reserved for agricultural research and development. Adding further he said that the biggest economic issue being faced by farmers was a price fixation of their crops. He said that the policy makers paid least attention to the higher prices of agricultural inputs and used to fix the crop prices keeping in mind the interest of consumers only. “We are the people who make decisions, so we have to keep it in mind that if farmers collapses whole market would cave in”, he added. Highlighting the major issues being faced by the farming community, deputy Chief Minister said that it should be made compulsory that soil quality and other related factors should be examined on regular basis to find suitable requirements of agri inputs for particular crops in the specific zones. He asserted that this was the only solution to sustain our agricultural production while keeping our environment safe. He said that excessive use of pesticides and fertilizers created scarcity of drinking water and if these critical situations prevailed in future, public war could be erupted due to scarcity of water after next few years. “I remember the days when I often used to go to my farms. At that time there were lots of birds and animals. These days all of them disappeared as they were get killed by excessive use of pesticides and insecticides”, said Mr. Badal. At last, Mr. Badal stressed that strong agricultural groups were need of the hour to ease out the problems being faced by the agricultural sector. He also appealed the national and international agricultural committees to play an assertive role in policy and decision making in their respective parliaments for the upliftment of farmers. In her inaugural address, Lok Sabha Speaker Mrs. Sumitra Mahajan said that in a Parliamentary system, the Parliamentary Committees were a much needed institutional arrangements that allowed Parliament to exercise its role more effectively and efficiently besides assuring accountability of the Executive to the people. She said that these committees also served as the vital link in policy formulation by way of recommending recourse to seeking public opinion on any issue or legislation under its consideration. Our Parliamentary Agriculture Committee had recommended that any new modern technology should be adopted only after examining its suitability to societal and local needs, its viability in different climatic conditions and that it should confirm to the laws, regulations and policies of the government. Mrs. Mahajan hoped that this workshop would felicitate knowledge sharing and learning besides adoption of best practices to promote the cause and interest of agriculture and allied sphere. In her address Speaker of Bangladesh and Chairperson of CPA Dr. Shirin Sharmin Chaudhary said that agriculture was the lifeline of any nation and its development was of paramount significance. Advocating the cause to help the peasantry in general and the poor farmers in particular, she said all the governments both at state and national level should come forward to bail them out from the existing worldwide crisis by extending liberal incentives. Dr. Chaudhary quoted the instance of Bangladesh government as how it was helping the poor farmers through its pro-farmer pragmatic policies. In his address, Parliamentary Affairs Minister Mr. Madan Mohan Mittal lauded the initiative of CPA for holding three days workshop on Agriculture in Punjab, which was truly a befitting salute to the brave farmers of the state who by dint of their sweat and toil had made our country self sustainable in food production. He appreciated the Chief Minister for his keen interest in development of agriculture and prosperity of farmers. Mr. Mittal also lauded the enormous contribution of Punjabi farmers in heralding an era of Green Revolution in Mid 60s thereby transforming our nation from food deficit to food surplus. Speaking on the occasion, the Leader of Opposition in Punjab Vidhan Sabha Mr. Sunil Jakhar said that the allocation for agriculture sector in union budget should not be linked with the GDP rather it should be realistically enhanced to empower the farming community across the country by implementing pro-farmer policies in the right earnest. He said that this workshop could offer a healthy platform to evolve a consensus for guidelines to be uniformly followed by the CPA for determining the quantum of budget keeping in view the ground realities and the challenges faced by the disadvantaged peasantry. Earlier in his welcome address Speaker of Punjab Vidhan Sabha Dr. Charanjit Singh Atwal termed it as a great moment, which was aimed at deliberating the crisis faced by the modern agriculture. Expressing his gratitude to CPA for choosing the capital city of Punjab for this historic workshop, he said that it was an apt choice because Punjab was synonym of agriculture growth and progress. Terming agriculture as foundation of civilization, Dr. Atwal said that nothing was possible without agriculture be it industry or food sector. The Speaker said that growth in the agricultural sector has a crucial role to play in reducing poverty. The International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) estimates that seven out of ten of the world's poor, still live in rural areas. They include small-holders, landless labourers and marginalized groups such as refugees, indigenous peoples and female-headed households. Their incomes could be boosted by pro-poor measures, such as ensuring fair access to land, water and other assets and inputs, and to services, including education and health. He expressed hope that the discussions during this workshop would go a long way in helping the commonwealth countries for eradicating the poverty. Later, the Chief Minister along with all the dignitaries on the dais released a souvenir published by the CPA in commemoration of the gala event in the region.

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