The farmers parked their tractors on the side of highways and demanded to exclude agriculture from the WTO agreement and implement a law to guarantee minimum support price (MSP).
Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) leader Harsimrat Kaur Badal on Friday alleged Punjab Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann was implementing the Central government agenda to end the minimum support price (MSP) regime on paddy by directing the state Advocate General to recommend the same to the Supreme Court during a hearing on air pollution in Delhi.
The former Union Minister and Member of Parliament (MP) from Bathinda said that paddy cultivation was linked with the very livelihoods of farmers of the state. “It is due to this crop that farmers are able to run their households and look after their families. Assured MSP on paddy means assured income and stability. We will not allow this stability to be wreaked,” she added.
The Punjab government’s suggestion for making other crops besides paddy viable by providing incentives to farmers, in order to stop paddy stubble burning, was “tantamount to taking Punjab back fifty years and striking a dire blow on its agricultural economy.”
“Punjab has functioned as the food bowl of the country since the last fifty years. We are major contributors to the public distribution system (PDS). Now an effort is afoot to phase out paddy production in Punjab by putting an end to the MSP regime, in the same manner in which the Central government had sought to do so earlier by bringing in the three agricultural laws,” Badal said.
“Though the laws were repealed after 650 farmers were martyred in the Kisan Andolan, now the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) government is set to implement the centre’s agenda by unilaterally recommending phasing out of paddy cultivation in Punjab,” she added.
Stating that such a step would not only result in the destruction of the state’s agricultural economy, the SAD leader said it would also throw farmers into penury and increase farmer suicides.
“We will not let this anti-Punjab step to be implemented at any cost. I urge Punjabis to confront AAP legislators and ask them why they are bent on destroying the state’s agricultural economy as well as the agri-marketing system which took decades to perfect…” she said.
Badal said that farmers were also not given compensation to manage stubble nor were adequate machines provided for the same. “Even the much touted chemical advocated as a panacea to manage stubble by AAP supremo Arvind Kejriwal has not been introduced in Punjab,” she added.