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AAP govt wants Centre to take Punjab farmers out of debt trap; demands one-time debt waiver

AAP govt wants Centre to take Punjab farmers out of debt trap; demands one-time debt waiver

As the farming community in Punjab continue to face economic distress, the ruling Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) government wants the BJP-led government at the Centre to take the farmers of the State out of the debt trap, and promote crop diversification besides fruit and vegetable farming.

Punjab Agriculture Minister Kuldeep Singh Dhaliwal on Friday handed over a letter to Union Agriculture Minister Narinder Singh Tomar to impress upon the Union government in this regard.

Mr. Dhaliwal has demanded a financial package for curbing the trend of stubble burning, reducing the hardships of border area farmers and saving water in agriculture and using modern tools to protect against pest attacks. Apart from this, it has also been demanded to open the export of agricultural and horticultural products to the Middle East so as to expand the income of farmers of the State.

Mr. Dhaliwal, who attended the National Conference of Agriculture and Horticulture Ministers of the States in Bengaluru met the Union Agriculture Minister and demanded financial relief for the farmers of the State.

In his letter, Mr. Dhaliwal said that an average farmer feels he is in a debt trap, as his present income if at all is able to pay the interest, and therefore as a one-time measure a debt waiver fund should be given to the State.

It was also stated in the letter that the infusion of Artificial Intelligence is the need of the hour to guide farmers in controlling watering, the addition of fertilizer, use of drones in picking fruit and keeping an eye on pests. “This requires investment in mapping the land parcels accurately, installing sensors in soil and in drones and other software and hardware. Similarly precision agriculture, in greenhouses, vertical agriculture and hydroponics is now widely practised in Israel and other developed nations and can prove saviours for the small farmer of the state. A fund of at least ₹300 crore per year over the next decade will help bring about the change,” it read.

“To promote growing of fruit and vegetables, farmers need a cold chain of warehouses and trucks-vehicles. ₹1000 crore corpus, to begin with, will go a long way to help the State diversify,” it added.

©The Hindu

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