Chandigarh: Punjab farmers on Friday gave thumbs down to the Union Budget 2012-13 for failing in announcing any special package to reinvigorate the state s farm sector.
"No package is announced for Punjab’s agricultural sector which has been the food bowl of the country for decades to rejuvenate the farm sector plagued with serious problems like declining water level and deteriorating soil health," Bhartiya Kisan Union, President, Ajmer Singh Lakhowal said here today.
Farmers have been pitching for a special economic package for Punjab to revitalise its agriculture sector, plagued with stagnant food grain yields, deteriorating underground water resources, mounting debt and farm sector s declining share in Gross State Domestic Product (GSDP).
Advisory body Punjab State Farmers Commission said the Union Budget should have focused on how to encourage crop diversification in states like Punjab to break the wheat-paddy rotation, mainly responsible for overexploitation of state's natural resources.
"Agro-processing sector should have been given push up in the budget so that farmers could be encouraged to grow crops other than wheat and paddy in order to save underground water resources," said Commission Chairman, GS Kalkat.
The Rs 100,000 crore hike in farm credit announced in Union Budget also did not find support from farmers who described this move to further burdening farmers with debt.
"Farmers have already been highly debt ridden and now further increase in farm credit will put more burden on them," said Lakhowal.
Farmers also criticized the budget for not lowering interest rate on farm implements like tubewell, tractors etc.
"Farmers have to pay as high as 13 per cent of rate of interest on buying tractors or other farm machinery.
Union budget should have addressed it by providing cheaper credit for long term," he said.
Farm production in Punjab, which contributes 50 per cent of wheat and 30 of rice on an average to central pool, has reached plateau with soil health deteriorating due to intensive wheat-rice cultivation.
Average yield of wheat and paddy has been hovering around 44 quintals and 58 quintals per hectare for the past several years.