Wheat import savings be given to Punjab farmers: SAD

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Chandigarh, May 19 (UNI) Shiromani Akali Dal President and Member of Parliament Sukhbir Singh Badal today claimed that the Centre had saved Rs 13,000 crore in foreign exchange as a result of the record wheat procurement for the central pool from Punjab and demanded that this benifit should be passed on to farmers of the state.

In a letter to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Mr Badal stated that this amount was the difference between the procurement price paid to the Punjab farmers and the amount that the Centre was ready to spend on importing wheat.

''Wheat procurement from the state this year had already crossed the 10 Million Metric Tonne mark and the final figure could be even more than 13 crore quintals. For this, the government had paid the Punjab farmers only Rs 11,500 crores. This works out to a saving of over Rs 13,000 crores for the central goverment at the prevailing international prices,'' Mr. Badal said.

The SAD president further said that the Punjab farmers had a legitimate claim on the money saved through bumper crop and procurement in the face of adverse agricultural ecology, including depletion in the land and water resources.

''The Punjab farmers have surprised everyone by coming out with unprecedented production. But this cannot go on forever. Punjab needs to replenish and rejuvenate its irrigation system and preserve the fast dwindling health of its soil. Massive inputs are also needed for agricultural research for evolving new techniques to improve production without putting any extra burden on arable land.

For all these reasons it is imperative that the money saved through the sweat and toil of the farmers be used only for the betterment of the farming profession,'' he said, adding that it was high time the country had a national policy on agriculture.

UNI PS MP US1835

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