Chandigarh, Oct 29 (UNI) Expressing concern over declining food production and decreasing land holdings, Punjab Agriculture Minister Sucha Singh Langah stressed the need for increasing agriculture production to meet the demands of increasing population.
Mr Langah stated this here today after inaugurating the conference on 'Environment and Livelihood Security Through Resource Management in Northern India'.
''Punjab contributes 61 per cent of wheat and 32 per cent of rice to the total requirement of the country while its area is only 1.53 per cent of the total area of the country. But the per hectare production level has reached a plateau and our natural resources are paying heavy price to maintain the production levels,'' he said.
''The water table has gone down from 15-20 ft at one time to 70 feet deep today and 77 per cent of land is affected by declining water table. The submersible motors and 20-25 per cent more electricity to draw water from this depth causing a burden of Rs 5000 crore burden on the state.'' He also expressed concern over global warming and its effect on crop productivity and warned that if suitable measures are not taken and new research and technology not evolved to curtail these problems, the productivity will go down further causing a disaster.
Speaking on the occasion, Dr V N Sharda, Director, Central Soil and Water Conservation Research and Training Institute, Dehradun, said ''The northern states of the country have played a vital role in self-sufficiency in food grain production, but the productivity is showing a declining trend in the recent past.'' He informed that 43 per cent of the total area in the region suffers from degradation of one form or the other. The region is also confronted with the problems of deforestation, loss of biodiversity and siltation of reservoirs in Himalayas and groundwater depletion, soil sickness and chemical deterioration in the plains of Haryana and Punjab.
He also highlighted the role of efficient management of rain water, following watershed concepts, rejuvenation of common property resources and organic farming in improving the declining productivity and soil health in the region.
Jammu and Kashmir Agriculture Minister A A Zargar, who was also present on the occasion, emphasised on short term and long term strategies, holistic and integrated farming system approach for sustainable production and environment.
On the occasion, Mr Langah also presented various awards. Dr M L Khybri, Dr Ram Babu, Dr V P Singh, Dr A K Tiwari and Dr P K Mishra were awarded IASWC Fellowship. Dr N K Sharma was awarded IASWC Gold Medal, Er Shakir Ali was awarded IASWC Young Scientist Award and Dr P V Firke was awarded IASWC Special Commendation Award.