The Agricultural Minister of Punjab Jathedar Tota Singh has strongly demanded 100 per cent procurement of maize by the Union Government as it was promoted as an alternative crop to bring the farmers out of the vicious circle of wheat-paddy and to check the depletion and contamination of ground water in the State. He also requested that Union Government should at the earliest fix the MSP of maize at Rs. 1815 per quintal.
Presiding over a meeting of the Agriculture Department, Mr. Tota Singh said that area under maize crop has registered double-fold increase by touching 2 Lakh hectares this year against the 1 lakh hectare last year giving a much needed push to persification. He said that keeping in view the bumper production of maize, the Punjab Government has raised the issue with central government to ensure total procurement of the maize on MSP besides proper procurement operation by Food Corporation of India.
The Minister also said that the Punjab Government has installed two maize dryer plants one each at Hoshiarpur & Nawan Sehar districts with the cost of Rs 16 Crore to facilitate the farmers to dry maize according to the international parameters.He said that to maintain the quality check of fertilizer, insecticides and pesticides, the Punjab Government is all set to launch Mobile labs to test quality of these products, which would provide results on the spot. The Minister has also asked the department officials to collect the samples of fertilizers, insecticides and pesticides in the presence of farmers and dealers and results would be given within minutes in the presence of both the parties. He added that this would ensure quality supply to the farmers as well as to the dealers. He asked the senior officials to ensure the purchase of best quality Mobile Labs at the earliest.
The Minister has also called the district Chief Agriculture Officers to prepare detailed plan at every district level by keeping in view the crop pattern and irrigation facilities to cope with any crisis as metrology Department has predicted deficient monsoon this year.The Department Officials has informed the Minister that direct sowing of paddy would cross the mark of 2 lakh hectares in the state which is more than four times against last year.The Minister also asked the district officers to conduct proper surveys of the various varieties of paddy being planted during this season and send the estimated production report of each variety so that proper marketing strategy could be made for procurement. He also clarified that surveys should be made for all recommended and non recommended varieties of rice with actual facts.
Earlier, in the meeting Mr. Suresh Kumar Financial Commissioner asked the District Agriculture Officers to send the agriculture plans before the start of new season so that concrete policies should be made for the welfare of farmers. He also warned the officers regarding sending alleged bogus reports of the activities being carried out by them in the field. He said that subsidies should be given to the actual beneficiaries if any bogus forms of subsidies reported then the concerned officer would have to face the heat. He said that teams formed at head office would soon visit district agriculture offices for verification of record besides interacting with farmers.Others prominent present in the meeting included Mr. Daljit Singh Additional Secretary, Dr. Mangal Singh Sandhu Director Agriculture, Joint Agriculture Officers of the Various wings of the Department and Chief Agriculture Officers of the districts.