“In Punjab, farming is a very big issue. Our objective is that just as we have presented the education, health and electricity sectors in Delhi as models, we will present Punjab’s farming as a model before the country,” the national convenor of the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) said here.
He said the work done by his party’s government in the education, health and electricity sectors in Delhi has been widely appreciated.
Kejriwal was addressing a gathering of the families of farmers who died during a year-long agitation against three contentious farm laws of the Centre that have since been repealed.
Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann and his Telangana counterpart K Chandrashekar Rao and were also present on the occasion.
Kejriwal said the children of lawyers, doctors and actors want to follow the professions of their parents, “but the son of a farmer does not want to become a farmer because farming is no longer a profitable occupation”.
“We will create such a model under which a farmer’s son will say he wants to become a farmer,” he said.
This model of agriculture will be replicated by the other states to improve their agrarian economy on the lines of Punjab, he added.
The AAP supremo said the first priority of his party’s government in Punjab is raising the income of farmers.
Unless their income is raised, farmers will continue to commit suicide and remain trapped in debt, he said.
Kejriwal said the Punjab government has announced a minimum support price (MSP) for the “moong” (green gram) crop and Rs 1,500 per acre for farmers who sow paddy following the direct-seeding-of-rice technique.
These decisions could only be taken by Mann, who comes from a farming background and understands the agriculture sector, the Delhi chief minister said.
He told the families of the farmers who died during the agitation that the entire country was with them.
Mann reiterated his government’s firm commitment to making agriculture economically viable and profitable in order to motivate youngsters to opt for it with pride and dignity.
“This function, organised to honour the families of soldiers and farmers, reflects our deep reverence and commitment for the adage ‘Jai Jawan, Jai Kisan’,” he said.
Taking a dig at the “apathetic” attitude of the previous governments that “blatantly ignored” the farming sector for their “myopic” outlook, Mann said it is ironical that a farmer who owns the most fertile land with the highest yield, as compared to any other part of the country and even across the globe, is living in penury and struggling to get two square meals a day.
On the contrary, his peers on foreign shores owning land with least fertility due to harsh climatic conditions are leading an affluent life, the chief minister said.
Targeting the previous governments in Punjab, he said, “They did not implement farmer-friendly initiatives for the welfare and prosperity of farmers, who were virtually pushed into a debt trap due to a meagre income caused by a low yield and high prices of inputs, thus making farming absolutely non-profitable.”
Mann said his government has taken several path-breaking initiatives such as motivating farmers to sow “moong” with the assurance that it will be procured on the MSP, a financial incentive of Rs 1,500 per acre for the promotion of the DSR technique, besides taking up crop diversification in a big way within two months of taking charge.
He lamented that the previous governments forced the state’s “annadata” (food givers) to become “beggars” and asserted that his government would make all-out efforts to restore their “annadata” status.
“The top priority of my government is to free farmers from debt,” the chief minister said.
Rao and Kejriwal handed over cheques for Rs 3 lakh each to the families of the farmers who died during the stir and Rs 10 lakh each to the families of four soldiers who were killed in the Galwan valley clash in eastern Ladakh with the Chinese army.
The cheques were handed over to 567 farmers’ families from Punjab and 150 from Haryana.
Telangana minister V Prasanth Reddy, Member of Parliament Nama Nageshwara Rao and farmer leader Rakesh Tikait were also present on the occasion, among others.