Despite producing of 22 per cent wheat , 12 per cent rice and 13 per cent cotton of the country’s total , the Punjab agriculture is in serious crisis that have pushed 90 per cent farm households under debt, mounting to whooping Rs 26,000 crore said Punjab Agriculture University (PAU) Vice Chancellor MS Kang. Inaugurating two-day seminar on “Punjab Economy: Performance and Challenges” organized by the Department of Economics at the university campus, Dr Kang said the farm production is of optimum level as the state shares less than 2 per cent of the total cultivable land of the country.
Moreover, the total value of farm produce per annum from the state has down to Rs 22695 crore now from Rs 26000 crore in 1994-95, he said adding the pauperization of farm families has led migration of farmers which now touches one lakh hands. The farm income per hectare has come down because produce prices announced by the Central government as Minimum Support Price (MSP) increased on average by one per cent while the prices of inputs rose by 3.5 per cent. And, the growth rate of agriculture Punjab, registered at 10 per cent in 1980s has come down to mere 1.2 per cent now and soil got fatigued and sick requiring more does of fertilizers, pesticides and other inputs to achieve the same level of production. [emphasis mine].
that's a march 2009 news story from the punjab university news bulletin .
despite producing more every year, the punjab farmer earns less every year. his costs go up every year, and so do his debts. and the suicides keep increasing.
from 1988 to 2006, according to a non-profit organization called the Movement Against State Repression (MASR), around 40,000 farmers have committed suicide. and that's only an estimate based on research done in some districts of punjab. around 2009, each farmer in punjab owed a debt of over rs.40,000, on an average, to institutional and other lenders. and every one of them would have incurred more debt in the past three years because the value of his produce has been going down, steadily, over two decades, at least.
now, he's being asked to borrow some more money to pay for the food security bill.
because punjab's the biggest source of surpluses for the indian state, the punjabi farmer would again be enticed with the promise of more procurement. though that would mean assured sales to an extent, looking more closely one would realize that with procurement prices growing at the spectacular rate of 1% per year on an average, it would only mean more losses for him in the end, when the growth in prices is measured against the general rate of inflation. as the banks have already shut their tijoris tight, he'd have to borrow more from informal lenders, incurring more costs..and so on.
and the funniest part is that the savarna/civil society activists promoting the food security bill have been closely associated with the sainath kind of 'liberals' who, while making jetsetting careers out of suicides, have been trivializing the crisis by bruiting around the idea that everything would be alright if only the govt subsidizes inputs a bit more, pushes the banks a little more, doles out a little more for procurement etc. have they really looked at the scale of the problem? the total debt burden on the punjabi farmers in 2009 was nearly 20% more than the total yearly output of all of them put together. now it'd have gone up much more. the more the farmer produces, the less he makes, and the more he slides into debt. because oversupply pushes prices down and wipes away all gains from lower costs. that's been the trend since the mid 80s when the suicides started in punjab.
by asking him to pay more for this new, enhanced 'food security' formula, sonia gandhi's brahminized gang of advisers are pushing more punjabi farmers towards suicide.