Saturday, September 14, 2002, Chandigarh, India

National Capital Region--Delhi



Crop diversification and the government’s role

A lot has been written about weaning the Punjabi farmer from the wheat-rice rotation. A number of committees have been formed and they come up with white-collared suggestions without giving a thought to the action that can be taken within the existing framework, before looking toward the Centre for a bailout package.

The central government had announced an MSP of Rs 1,300 per quintal for oilseeds such as mustard. During the last rabi season I had sown one acre of mustard crop, yielding about three quintals of seeds. When it was taken to the Ropar mandi, my commission agent informed me that there was no buyer from the government agencies to lift the oilseeds at the MSP. I had to give it away at Rs 1,100 per quintal to a local miller. If the state government is sincere in its objectives, even a 50 kg lot should be picked up at the MSP. Otherwise, where is the incentive for a marginal farmer for staying away from the traditional pattern?

So far as encouraging sugarcane cultivation is concerned, the state should adopt the "Maharashtra model" for harvesting and transporting sugarcane from the fields to the sugar mills. This model envisages that the sugar mills provide contract labour and transport as per an evolved programme. The farmers are paid based on the actual weight of sugarcane. This method will encourage a marginal farmer to break from the paddy-wheat cycle even if he does not own a tractor-trailer. This will also streamline labour rates and do away with the time spent by farmers in long queues at the sugar mills. The purchase price of sugarcane can be marginally reduced to cover the harvesting and carrying costs.


A large number of farmers have gone in for poplar and eucalyptus plantation. Dealers from outside the state pick up most of the raw wood at throwaway prices. There is a strong case for giving incentives for setting up new industries manufacturing plywood, plyboard and other wood-based finished products so that farmers can get reasonable returns for their produce.

Brig K.S. GREWAL (retd), Panchkula

Moral education

About one third of the aged live in bereavement and their condition is vulnerable. In many cases, older persons themselves invite problems by bequeathing their cash & property during their life-time to their children, by becoming stubborn, adamant and disagreeable over small issues in the family, by poking their nose in maters of their grown-up, married offspring, by being partial in some matters, by thrusting their decisions on family members and by criticising a member of the family or his/her relations.

The authorities should give a serious thought to making moral education a compulsory subject in schools. Today's youngsters are tomorrow's Senior Citizens. They should understand their role towards their parents and the elderly persons. If they pay respect to their parents, their children will follow suit.

R.K. JAIN, Jagadhri

Precision farming

The article “Precision Farming" by P.P.S. Gill (Sept 2) is thought provoking. Dr Bajwa, the author of the reviewed document “Precision crop diversification in Punjab” rightly asserts that crop diversification in the state can only be sustainable if it is made site specific and profitable. A vast expansion of food processing and marketing units in the state is a must. And as of now, the statistical figures of Punjab agriculture show that diversification, at least by 20 per cent in the existing area under the rice-wheat based cropping system, is of immediate necessity if Punjab is to be saved from depletion of its natural resources, particularly irrigation water. Dr Bajwa deserves congratulations for scrutinising some serious problems of Punjab agriculture and their timely solution through precision farming. Farmers of Punjab would like to hear more on this score.

It would be appreciated if the document is made available to readers at an affordable price.


Our martyrs

Our desi TV channels have gone overboard in their coverage of the first anniversary of the September 11 attacks on the USA. That's called flowing along the Western currents. That's not bad and I don't mean to be rude but only if we could ape them in paying tributes too. How many of us have paid homage to the martyrs of Kargil?

It was not very surprising that we actually forgot our martyrs this year just because the blue-collored fellows got too busy welcoming the new Rashtrapati.

No wonder we have a whole lot of people moving to the West, where every little work is appreciated.


Exploiting girls

I am shocked at the news item that NRI men are exploiting Punjabi girls. Here are some precautions that a girl's parents can take.

Every legal resident of a country such as the USA is issued a social security number which entitles them to work. The parents must keep a photocopy of the boy’s social security card. The parents can also ask for a photocopy of his last pay slip to know where the boy is working and how much he is making.

The Punjab Government must set up a partnership with law firms in foreign countries to sue the boys for damages and harassment.



Adulteration is rampant in Punjab. The innocent consumer is unaware of the fact that he is consuming brick sand with chilly powder, stone and glass pieces with pulses, urea with milk, horses excreta with condiment powder, used lubricating oil and grease in cooking oil and banned colours in sweets.

The consequences are sporadic/epidemic deaths, which make headlines in the print media and on television and leave unscrupulous businessmen working in complicity with the health authorities unmoved. These death-merchants need to be dealt with severely.

Col KULDIP SINGH GREWAL(retd), Patiala


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