Badal launches network of Agro service Centres in Punjab

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Chandigarh, Dec 1 (UNI) In a move aimed at making the small and marginal farmers the central component of Punjab's second push to agricultural economy, chief minister Parkash Singh Badal today announced the launch of a statewide network of Agro service Centres (ASCs).

The Punjab State Farmers Commission and the government would jointly promote this scheme, a brainchild of the renowned agricultural scientist and chairman of Punjab State Farmers Commission Dr G S Kalkat.

It is among the various measures that the state government proposes to take, in order to reduce costs and increase profits for the small and marginal farmers who constitute more than 70 per cent of the total hands engaged in agriculture.

All 143 blocks will be covered under the scheme and each block will have five such centres which would function as collective reservoirs of latest agricultural technology and would help reduce heavy capital investment and high fixed costs on the adoption of the state of the art farm tools.

This would help in minimising investment by small and marginal farmers with holdings below or up to ten acres. As the economic unviability of individual purchases of advanced farm implements by small and marginal farmers was making agriculture unremunerative, the government has decided to pitch in with this subsidised community facility.

Each centre will have a pool of 50-60 HP tractors, laser land levelors, the latest varietis of disc harrows and tillers, scientifically designed happy seeder for no till cultivation of wheat in standing stubbles of paddy, bed planters, ridgers, rotovators and mini walking tractors (rotary tillers) for special operations of tilling sugarcane and orchards.

The small and marginal farmers could hire the necessary machinery from these centres.

Announcing the scheme, Mr Badal said that over a period of time agriculture has become heavily over capitalised, increasing the per unit cost of production. Heavy investments by individuall farmers on farm machinery has contributed the alarming magnitude of farmers indebetdeness. The government has decided to take the load of these investments off the farmers through the introduction of block level pools under these centres.

Initally, the government would subsidise purchase of machinery by each centre. Its operators will be selected through a transparent procedure by a committee headed by the ADC (Development) and will include chief agriculture officer, deputy registrar cooperative societies, deput and Assitant director horticulture.

Recommendations about the suitability and eligibility of operators would be made to the state farmers commission for the grant of subsidy.

UNI

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