Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh on Tuesday sought the World Bank’s technological and financial support to help the state’s farmers transition from the conventional wheat-paddy cycle to a diversified cropping pattern, aimed at income enhancement and water conservation.During a meeting with a World Bank delegation, led by Dr. Juergen Voegele, Global Director, Agriculture & Water, the Chief Minister said that incentivized by the state government’s programmes, many farmers were adopting alternate crops by shunning wheat and paddy cultivation. They needed technological and financial support, which the World Bank could provide, he added.Captain Amarinder directed the state Agriculture Department to come out with a blueprint of crop diversification and ground water saving projects for submission to the World Bank, for their technological and financial support. During the high-level meeting, which focused on the critical issues of crop diversification to enhance farmers’ income and check water depletion, the Chief Minister also urged the World Bank to provide support for promotion of fruit and livestock exports in Punjab, as it had done in Uzbekistan. Captain Amarinder asked the delegation members to share their experiences and innovations to complement the state's efforts to protect its ground water table.The Chief Minister mooted de-coupling of farm subsidies from production, and underlined the need for an efficient marketing mechanism to incentivise farmers towards crop diversification, and said the World Bank could support the state government’s programmes in this regard. He also stressed the importance of enlargement of the existing farm support mechanism, for which procurement of alternate crops like Maize, Cotton and Sugarcane by the Government of India at MSP was vital.
The Chief Minister apprised the visiting delegation that as part of its initiatives to strengthen the support mechanism for farmers, the state government would be introducing the amended Agricultural Produce Market Committee Act (APMC) in the Assembly soon. Rules for the amendments, aimed at market reforms, had already been finalized, he added.Underscoring the significance of having in place an efficient data base, the Chief Minister also asked the Agriculture Department to also devise a permanent mechanism for collation of analytical work in the farming sector, in order to leverage the same for successful implementation of policies.The issue of stubble burning also came up during the meeting and the Chief Minister said the farmers needed to be incentivized through cost compensation by the central government to make the campaign against the harmful practice a success.Dr. Voegele lauded state’s initiatives like 'Paani Bachao, Paise Kamao' and assured the Chief Minister of full support from the World Bank in his government’s efforts towards crop diversification and water conservation. Punjab has great opportunity to herald a new Agri revolution by leveraging its potential in fruits and allied sectors, he added.The meeting was attended, among others, by Senior Advisor to CM Lt. Gen (Retd.) T S Shergill, Media Advisor to CM Raveen Thukral, Chief Principal Secretary to CM Suresh Kumar, Additional Chief Secretary Agriculture Viswajit Khanna, Chief Secretary Karan Avtar Singh, Principal Secretary Finance Anirudh Tewari, Principal Secretary to CM Tejveer Singh, PAU VC Baldev Singh Dhillon, and Chairman Punjab Farmers Commission Ajaiveer Jakhar.The other members of delegation included Program Leader and Punjab Coordinator Bhavna Bhatia, Programme Leader Sustainable Development Sumila Gulyani, and Senior Agriculture Specialist Manivannan Pathy.