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Experts advocate policy reforms for farm sector

political economy and governance of punjab

Experts advocate policy reforms for farm sector

Picture for representational purpose only.



Tribune News Service

Neeraj Mohan

New Delhi, March 4

Poor agricultural marketing system, domination of arhtiyas, dependence on wheat and paddy, poor procurement of alternative crops and depleting groundwater table are among the key reasons for an agricultural crisis, as highlighted by experts from diverse fields.

Reasons for agri crisis

Experts say poor agricultural marketing system, domination of arhtiyas, dependence on wheat and paddy and depleting groundwater table are among the key reasons for an agricultural crisis

The two-day seminar, organised by the National Institute of Punjab Studies and India International Centre, began with an inaugural address of former J&K Governor NN Vohra. The experts recommended policy reforms to revive the state’s farming sector and rural economy.

Renowned economist Prof Sucha Singh Gill, former Director General of CRRID, Chandigarh, shed light on the historical trajectory of Punjab’s agriculture. He pointed out that after the Green Revolution, Punjab witnessed a shift in focus from development to law and order, exacerbated by terrorism era and organised crime.

In late nineties, the state’s economy collapsed, resulting in a decline in per capita income, growth and the GSDP, a situation that persists today.

Prof Gill highlighted the challenge posed by the entrenched wheat-paddy cycle and stressed the need for a paradigm shift. The failure of certain contract-farming models in Punjab was also scrutinised by the experts, who noted that these experiences had left farmers sceptical about corporate sector involvement.

Criticisms were levelled at the state and Centre for inadequate handling of the crisis and failure to engage farmers effectively.

Prof Kamal Vatta of the PAU presented startling figures about Punjab’s rural economy, which requires immediate attention towards the landless and tenant farmers. He said the existing non-farm sector was dominated by less remunerative employment opportunities, which do not provide an alternative path for significant improvement in rural livelihood and diversification of rural economy in future.

Prof Anindita Sarkar from Miranda House, University of Delhi, advocated a shift in cropping patterns to align with consumer needs, pointing out that the wheat-paddy cycle not only depleted groundwater, but also consumed a significant portion of the state’s electricity.

Addressing agriculture market reforms, Prof Sukhpal Singh of IIM-Ahmedabad criticised the state government for its inaction and increasing dependence on the Centre.

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