• Budget a panacea for small farmers: Bansal

    2 "The budget will go a long way in solving the problems of the small farmer,' said Pawan Kumar Bansal, Minister of State for Finance, while speaking at a seminar, "Agriculture

  • Waiver not enough

    Raise farm productivity THE Rs 60,000-crore agricultural loan waiver and one-time settlement announced in the budget for 2008-09, welcome as it is, will not be enough to mitigate distress among farmers. According to the C. Rangarajan Committee, only 27 per cent of the farm households take loans from formal sources. Most others borrow from private moneylenders, who charge heavy interest rates and also force the borrowers to sell their crops to or through them at lower-than-market prices. Haryana has passed the Rural Indebtedness Act to check exploitation of small farmers by moneylenders. Punjab only toyed with the idea and then dropped it. Debt is only one part of the problem that has got highlighted due to suicides by farmers. Irrigation is another. There are farmers, particularly in arid and other areas where irrigation facilities are absent or inadequate, who own more than two hectares but are poor because of low productivity or frequent crop failures. They will not benefit from the loan waiver. Though the budget provides more funds for irrigation, it is the states that have to take steps to conserve water resources and meet the irrigation needs of farmers. Farm productivity in India is below global standards. There is need to use biotechnology to improve the quality of seeds as has been done in the case of cotton and strengthen extension services to provide expert advice to farmers on what to grow and how. If farmers are to be rescued from relapsing into a debt trap and agriculture has to be made remunerative, the practice of artificially suppressing farm prices will have to be given up. While the government must ensure payment of the minimum support prices, if global prices are higher the growers must not be denied the added benefit. Last year the government paid much more for imported wheat than what was paid to local farmers. The government burden can be contained if the food, power and fertiliser subsidies are limited to the needy. The M.S. Swaminathan panel has laid the road map for rejuvenating agriculture and this merits closer attention.

  • Loan waiver not fair to Punjab farmers: Badal

    Bathinda: Dubbing the loan waiver announced by the Union government for Punjab farmers as a classic example of "administering medicine for cold to a person suffering from cancer', Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal today said Punjab farmers were not meted out fair treatment by the Centre while announcing the relief. The CM said focus should have been on reducing input costs like diesel prices and fertiliser costs for ushering in sustainability in the agricultural sector. Badal was in Malooka village near here today to participate in the bhog ceremony of Chatin Kaur, mother of Akali leader Sikander Singh Malooka. He dwelt upon the need for setting up an all-party expert committee comprising agri-experts to bail out state farmers from the crisis. Badal said only 29 per cent farmers of Punjab

  • Punjab may not be able to reap waiver harvest

    As the Union Government works out the exact details of the farm loan waiver announced in the Budget, the first concern has been raised by Punjab, which incidentally contributes 50 per cent of the tota

  • Forest cover: Punjab at bottom

    Despite massive investments in plantations for the past more than 10 years, Punjab continues to have one of the lowest forest cover in the country in terms of percentage.

  • No new taxes, sops in Punjab Budget

    An unusual scene: Punjab Finance Minister Manpreet Singh Badal seeks blessings from Leader of Opposition Rajinder Kaur Bhattal after presenting the Budget in the Assembly on Monday.

  • A few good acres

    Acquisition rates have to be responsive to give armers a good information environment

  • Growth comes a cropper sans farms, farmers

    I SPENT the first 12 years of my life in a poor, dusty and backward village of undivided Punjab. I still have vivid recollection of life in that village.

  • Paddy crop will suffer, Badal tells PM

    Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal today expressed his reservations to the Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh about proposals on the contentious issue of river-water sharing, saying these could g

  • Punjab State Pollution Control Board

    The Punjab Pollution Control Board was constituted in the year 1975 vide Punjab Government Notification No. 6186-BR II (4) 75/24146 dated 30.07.1975, after the enactment of Water (Prevention & Control

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