CHANDIGARH: Pushing forward his agenda for crop diversification to end the vicious wheat-paddy cycle and save the depleting groundwater in the state, Punjab Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh on Tuesday asked the State Planning Board to chalk out a comprehensive crop diversification model.
The Board has also been directed to undertake a detailed review of the various schemes of the Agriculture Department to bring in the much-needed reforms in the sector.
Chairing an interactive session with the members of the Board constituted to suggest measures to initiate changes in the agriculture pattern, Amarinder also directed the Planning Department to set up a centralised Data Analysis and Monitoring division for collation of all data related to the various agricultural schemes in the state.
This would help in ensuring quality policy and decision making, besides ensuring concurrent monitoring and end-of-project evaluation of all government welfare schemes, he added.
Expressing concern over the fast depleting water table, Amarinder underlined the need to prioritise less water consuming crops, beginning with maize, cotton and sugarcane. He asked the Board to come up with a strategy to persuade the farmers to shift to these crops, from the traditional wheat and paddy.
The Chief Minister asked the Board members to review the working of the Bureau of Agriculture Extension Services to aggressively disseminate crop knowledge and information amongst farmers and guide them regarding the timing and application of pesticides.
Stressing on the need to evolve a futuristic marketing strategy for agricultural products, Captain Amarinder sought suggestions to enable the setting up of a common digital platform to ensure a remunerative price for farm produce.
Finance Minister Manpreet Singh Badal suggested a ban on the cultivation of paddy on panchayat land auctioned for agricultural purposes, while Vice Chairman of the Planning Board Rajinder Gupta suggested more focus on standardisation of produce to make it more competitive in the international market.
Chairman of the Farmers Commission Sandeep Jakhar underlined the need to give more powers to Markfed and Punjab Agro to push marketing of fresh vegetable produce.
KVS Sidhu of Patiala Horticulture mooted the rationalisation of farm subsidies to ensure the equitable allocation of state resources for agricultural development.