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Punjab Farm Policy Drafts Set Limitation on Paddy Crop, Cut in Power Subsidy

Pronami Chetia
Pronami Chetia

Punjab State Farmers Commission (PSFC) has come up with many new initiatives and suggestions to strengthen its agriculture sector including limiting paddy cultivation by a Punjab farmer to a maximum of four hectares, sourcing milk and eggs for mid-day meal scheme, cutting down on agricultural power subsidy for big farmers and setting up of a crop compensation fund for failed crops to boost agriculture sector in the State. 

As per the report, these recommendations are a part of ‘first-of-its-kind policy’ for farmers in Punjab that the commission has been drafting for some time. 

What are the suggestions? 

The first draft of the report was ready nearly a year ago but the State government hasn’t accepted it yet as it fears that some measures suggested in the draft policy may disappoint the farmers. But about three weeks ago, the government showed some willingness to scrutinize the contents of the 15-page document and a Cabinet sub-committee was constituted for the same. 

The other sensitive issue that the draft has dealt with is the power subsidy for agricultural pump sets. The draft has suggested cutting down power subsidy to big farmers (those with more than 4 hectares of land) to 33 percent, which can be increased to 66 percent if the farmer adopts micro-irrigation. 

Since the years, excessive groundwater drawl for agriculture has been a major issue in Punjab. In 2016, 85 percent blocks in the State were found to be critical as against 53 percent in 1984. On the other hand, excessive usage of fertilizer has been causing water pollution, while the excessive use of water was leading to soil degradation. 

So the state government decides to call for a drafting water policy which promotes and regulates conjunctive and optimum use of surface and groundwater as well as a seed policy to ensure proper certification of seeds sold in the State. 

Compensation fund 

The commission even gave the suggestion of setting up of a crop compensation fund that can provide farmers compensation of ₹12,000/acre in case of 100 percent loss of crop. The premium for the scheme can be collected from the purchase of agricultural commodities by government agencies, it said. 

Ajay Vir Jakhar, the PSFC Chairperson said, “This draft farmers’ policy is a unique one. It is not an agricultural policy like that some other States have come out with. It puts farmers at the front. Nowhere in the policy, we are talking of increasing agricultural production, but talks about improving a lot of farmers and others like landless laborers who depend on agriculture for a living.” 

It has implemented some of the recommendations, though the Amarinder Singh government has not accepted the draft yet.  

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