ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Costly Mistakes

Agricultural Crisis of Punjab

The historical review of growth of agriculture in Punjab shows that ignoring basic research and hierarchical domination in research and policy formulation led to the crisis we see today. Two measures can help improve the situation in the long run. Basic and fundamental research will be intrinsic to ameliorate the current problems and for future agricultural growth. The existing agricultural research and policy formulation system should be relieved from the prevailing hierarchical domination and institutional barriers for progress.

Punjab occupies an important place in the agricultural economy of India and was known as the “heartland of the green revolution.” With just 1.57% of the area, it accounts for 12% of the national foodgrain production (Parveen et al 2012). About 84% of the geographical area of the state is cultivated, of which 95% is irrigated either by canals or tube wells (Government of Punjab 2015). Punjab is a major contributor towards the public distribution system supplying 50% to 60% foodgrains to the federal pool meant for distribution in deficit regions. In this way Punjab province had been a significant player in the food security of India for the last four decades.

The historical review of agricultural development provides a very interesting picture. India faced chronic food shortages after independence and it became alarming in the second-half of the 1960s. It was the period when the green revolution technology was developed at the international research institutions, especially at the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Centre (CIMMYT), Mexico. However, this technology required a symbiotic action of seeds, irrigation, chemicals, and fertilisers, and was most suitable for fertile areas having sufficient surface and/or groundwater for irrigation. Situated in the catchment areas of the Himalayan rivers, Punjab had sufficient surface as well as groundwater resources, and emerged as a suitable region for dissemination and adoption of the green revolution technology.
Besides the land and water resources, the research and development (R&D) infrastructure for testing, modification, and dissemination of this technology had also taken a fairly good shape by this time. Therefore, to increase foodgrain production to feed the growing population, the seed–chemical–irrigation technology was instantly adopted in this region. Increasing area under foodgrains and enhancing their production were facilitated through policy, and R&D support. The Government of India (GoI) institutionalised the price fixation system for foodgrains by establishing the Agricultural Prices Commission in 1965 that assured the minimum support prices (MSP) for wheat and rice. The Food Corporation of India insured the marketing of wheat and rice at MSP in case the prices fell below it.

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Updated On : 19th Mar, 2018
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