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Farmers in the Punjab Need Help

Visiting India after the Pandemic- Part 2

Los Angeles, April 17, 2023 Sanghera
Ramesh/ A.Gary Singh

Also Read Part1...Click Here.

During the two months I spent in India in general and Punjab in particular, one issue dominated the press. It was the issue affecting farmers in the Punjab. As Punjab is mainly an agricultural province, it is natural that Punjabis are more concerned about issues affecting farmers than any other subject. My own family is a farming family. My dad was a prominent farmer in the area. Since he passed away a long time ago, our other family members have carried on the farming.  Similar is the case with hundreds of thousands of other families in the Punjab whose livelihood depends on farming. The issues faced by the farmers in Punjab and elsewhere in the country were highlighted very well by the powerful united farmer’s organizations, concerned citizens and their supporters as part of the Samyukt Kisan Morcha two years ago on the outskirts of the national capital.

                        There is no doubt that the United Kisan Morcha accomplished a lot. However, a lot still needs to be done. The farmers are urging the government to fulfill its commitment made to the farmers as per their agreement. Issues like MSP are still pending. Hopefully, these issues will be resolved to the satisfaction of the farmers .Back in the Punjab; the provincial government has been encouraging farmers to diversify their crops. It is trying to wean them away from some of their major crops like wheat and paddy/rice. The increasing shortage of over the ground and underground water in the Punjab is a major concern for everyone. Some researchers are predicting that if this trend of using water for crops does not change, in a few years Punjab may be facing the prospect of a desert. This is very scary.

Farmers depend heavily on government assistance and Nature. The fertilizers are getting very expensive. So is the labour. Then there is Nature. Till mid- March the lush green miles and miles of fields of wheat all over Punjab were a delight to see. There were big smiles on the faces of the farmers and great hope for a bumper wheat crop. The harvesting season was only a few weeks down the line.   Then suddenly, one night a severe thunderstorm, heavy rain and strong winds dashed their hopes to the ground.  It was devastation and destruction all over. In this context the provincial must be commended for coming to the aid of the farmers. Unfortunately, the provincial government can only so much as it is already burdened with so much debt. In order to avoid such tragedies, the government has been urging farmers to diversify their crops.

Some of the farmers are catching on to diversification of their crops. There is more emphasis on getting back more to crops like sugar- cane ,maize, pulses (daals), fruits and vegetables etc. It was reported that in the Bhatinda area some farmers are taking advantage of the waterlogged saline land by growing shrimp. Historically, the farmers of Punjab are very tough, hardworking and resilient. They have been doing a commendable job in feeding the rest of India. Unfortunately, some events, circumstances and developments are beyond their control. This is when they need and deserve all the help they can get as they do it now.