In the second session of Punjab Dialogue with farmers by Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), lack of marketing chain, ruined canal irrigation system and prevailing corruption in agriculture department have emerged as key concerns of farmers.
Head of the Manifesto Committee of AAP and Senior Journalist Kanwar Sandhu along with Head of the party’s farmers’ wing Captain GS Kang and senior leader Chander Suta Dogra listened to the grievances of huge gathering ranging from marginal to progressive farmers at Chohan Palace of the Ferozepur district of Malwa region of the state.
Most of the farmers complained of water-logging in their field, which damaged their at least 10 to 12 crops in the previous consecutive years forcing many of them to leave the peasantry at all to keep their land baron.
Kanwar Sandhu while addressing the gathering said “It is a unique idea by AAP to include stakeholders into the process of setting up poll manifesto of the upcoming government in Punjab”.
“Earlier in Delhi, AAP had included people to set up the poll document, it resulted in historic victory by party and accordingly promises made in the holy document were fulfilled by the party”, Sandhu said claiming that in Punjab also same exercise is being done through Punjab Dialogue.
“Unlike other political parties, which promises moon in Poll Manifesto and on ground do not do anything, AAP does not make mere political promises, rather through Punjab Dialogue, agenda of upcoming government is being set by the stakeholders”, Sandhu added.
It is a sort of agreement by the AAP for time-framed fulfillment of promises, which would be made in the Poll manifesto, he assured while vowing that political change is must to change the ‘rotten’ system, which is not possible in the “battlefield” but could be done through “Field of Ballot”.
During last three months, more than 100 farmers have committed suicides, as 65 to 70 percent of farmers are under huge debt in Punjab, Sandhu said adding that even Punjab Government is also under debt of about Rs 80,000 crore, due to its miss-governance, rather non-governance.
One of the farmers Gurdev Singh rued that his consecutive crops got damaged due to lack of irrigation facilities as canal water was being used only by influential farmers under political patronage.
There is a dire need of a comprehensive compensation policy along with crop insurance, farmers said citing that farmers should not look towards government every time in case of damaged crop due to natural calamity.
Another farmer Kuldeep Singh said that report of Swaminathan Committee should be immediately implemented to link the Minimum Support Price (MSP) with price index.
“It is unfortunate that in case of industry, it is industrialists who decide about the sale price of their product, but in agriculture sector, price of the crop is decided by the bureaucrats, who don’t know anything about agriculture, while sitting in air conditioned rooms in Delhi”, farmers rued.
Daljit, a farmer suggested that dairy farming could be developed as an effort for diversification to bring farmers out of the vicious circle of wheat-paddy circle. Farmers should also be involved in the policy-making process to make these policies more effective and real, he said.
A progressive farmer Jagdeep Singh suggested that private companies should be roped in by the government for supply of good quality of seeds and fertilizers under ‘guarantee’ of maximum yield. In case of failure of the given ‘guarantee’ these companies should be make accountable, he said.
Farmers demanded that a Horticulture Officer should be deployed in each village to advice farmers for adopting good agriculture practices to reduce the cost of product by curbing over-spray of fertilizers by farmers in an inadvertent manner.
While concluding the Dialogue, Sandhu said there is a need of intensive efforts of diversification, strengthening of canal system of irrigation and more agriculture research in Punjab Agriculture University, for which AAP would set a comprehensive agenda in its upcoming Poll Manifesto.