Agri-economists for special package to spur Punjab farm sector

Chandigarh, Feb 24 (PTI) Agri-economists have called forspecial economic package for Punjab from the Centre in theupcoming budget to rejuvenate its agri sector plagued withstagnant yields, declining share in Gross State DomesticProduct, plummeting water table and piling debt.

They further argued in favour of a fiscal package toenable Punjab--the food bowl of the country, in providing foodsecurity for the nation in the future, particularly, in thewake of high commodity prices that are fuelling inflation.

"A special package for Punjab is really needed toinvigorate the state�s farm sector which has been passingthrough a tough time...

The centre has to announce a package for short-term andlong-term needs of the state (Punjab) if it wants it tocontinue feeding the country," noted Sucha Singh, economistand Director General of Centre for Research in Rural andIndustrial Development(CRRID).

Justifying the demand for the package, Gill pointedout that the state�s farm research and extension activitieshad completely collapsed on account of shortage of funds withthe state government.

"It is essential to provide funds to strengthen researchand extension activities in order to develop new high-yieldand less water-consuming crop varieties, which will alsowithstand the impact of climate changes," he said.

According to Punjab economic survey, farm productionin the state has reached plateau with soil healthdeteriorating due to intensive wheat-rice cultivation.

The average yield of wheat and paddy has been hoveringaround 43 quintals and 58 quintals per hectare for the pastseveral years.

To arrest the declining water table, economists stressedon the need for funds to be utilised for recharging anddesilting water bodies, setting up ponds or small dams tostore rain water and popularising micro irrigation schemes.

Out of 142 blocks in the state, water table in 107 blocksand 5 blocks is under overexploited and critical categories,respectively. .

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