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FDI good for Punjab farmers : PM
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, December 8
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh today said the farmer organisations in Punjab had strongly supported the foreign direct investment (FDI) in retail, which was approved by Parliament recently.

Speaking during the golden jubilee convocation of Punjab Agricultural University (PAU), the PM said the FDI would introduce new technology and investment in marketing agricultural produce.

He put the ball in the state governments’ court saying the Central Government has taken many steps to liberalise investment decisions, thereby opening the way for the state governments to compete with each other to attract investments from the rest of the country and abroad.

Exhorting the Punjab Government “to rise to the occasion”, he said Punjab had many advantages in that respect. It was extremely well-connected with major national rail and road links. The East-West-North-South dedicated freight corridors would extend into Punjab, improving freight connectivity, he said. The state already had excellent road connectivity and the National Highways Development Programme was improving that further, he added.

Concern over water table

The Prime Minister expressed concern over the depleting water table in Punjab. He said sustainability of water use in agriculture had emerged as a major problem in the state.

The challenge was how to maximise farm income while adopting a more sustainable strategy for water use, he said. Presently, exploitation of groundwater far exceeded the rate of recharge and was leading to a steady decline in the water table. This was clearly not sustainable, he said. Similar problems existed in other parts of the country, too, but these were the most severe in Punjab where 80 per cent of the development blocks were now categorised as overexploited.

He said it was imperative for Punjab to address this problem. Calling for a change in the rice-wheat cropping system, he said it was a profitable cropping cycle for farmer only because the cost of overexploiting ground water was not part of private profitability calculations.

He categorically said that Punjab should not continue overexploiting its groundwater to support rice cultivation. A gradual phasing out of rice cultivation would not affect the overall food security of the country because there were good prospects of rice cultivation in eastern and central parts of the country, he added.

Badal forewarns of agri-crisis

Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal forewarned that the agriculture crisis in the state could turn into a social issue that could become a law and order problem, if there was no timely intervention by the Union Government.

He said the farmers, reeling under a debt of Rs 35,000 crore, were demoralised as there was no encouragement to them from the Centre. The only silver lining was the power subsidy of nearly Rs 6,000 crore being provided by the state government. “We are subjected to sharp criticism from all quarters for giving free electricity to farmers, whereas it is an acknowledged fact that countries like the USA and Australia give heavy subsides to agriculturists,” he said.

He also rued that the state’s requests for a drought-package had gone unheeded, despite the promise of a package by a group of ministers led by Union Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar.

Earlier, PM Manmohan Singh, CM Parkash Singh Badal, along with Dr Jaswant Singh Kanwar and Dr RS Paroda, both eminent farm scientists, were awarded the Doctor of Science (honoris causa) degree by the Punjab Governor and Chancellor of the university Shiv R Patil.


  • The FDI will introduce new technology and investment in marketing agricultural produce, thus benefiting farmers
  • Punjab faces a challenge to maximise farm income while adopting a more sustainable strategy for water use

Badal showers praise on Manmohan

Punjab CM Parkash Singh Badal called PM Manmohan Singh “the most distinguished economist of the world”. He said the students (of PAU) were lucky to receive their degrees in his presence

I’ve a doctorate in politics: Punjab CM

On receiving the degree of Doctor of Science (honoris causa), Badal said: “I am the most undeserving man…I am only an ordinary graduate...You can give me a degree in politics. I have a doctorate in it.”





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