Monday, October 10, 2011

Saving Punjab farmer

By Devinder Sharma
4 October, 2011

To overcome the adverse long term impacts of intensive farming, Punjab needs to make its agriculture more sustainable and farmer centric.

For over 40 years now, ever since Green Revolution began, the nation has eulogised the Punjab farmer. Newspapers have reported time and again about the visible prosperity ushered in through intensive agriculture. Magazine articles have featured the opulent life style of prosperous Punjabi farmers. The story of the bygone era somehow remains transfixed in our memory, and that perhaps is the reason why policy makers, economists and scientists still continue to live in the past.

For nearly two decades now, Punjab’s underbelly has been gradually caving in. Excessive use of chemical fertilisers has turned the verdant lands poisonous, water mining has dried the aquifers leading to the expansion of the desert, and chemical fertilisers and pesticides have played havoc with the environment and human health. With the input prices climbing year after year and the output prices remaining static, Punjab farmers became a victim of the same economic policies that projected them as country’s heroes. Agriculture has become not only unsustainable but economically unviable.

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