Poor output of govt farms belies expertise of Agriculture Dept

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Punjab Agriculture Department, which advertises ‘important messages for farmers’ to increase produce, yields very poor output itself. Even the target of earning from farms owned and controlled by the department, which have best expertise, knowledge and technical advancement, is not commensurate with the earnings of an average traditional farmer.
The income statement of the extension wing of the Punjab agriculture department revealed that the target of income from agriculture farms in different districts for the year 2011-12 was fixed at Rs 5 million but even that meager target could not be achieved and the income remained jammed at Rs 4.1 million.
The case of income from experimental farms had a similar fate under the agriculture department from which an earning of Rs 33 million was achieved during the last fiscal year.
Per acre returns from both categories of farms remained less than Rs 10,000 per acre per annum, even if all excuses and reasons from the agriculture department were to be considered.
The income by a department having several tools and resources is very low compared to an ordinary but progressive farmer who is getting up to 80 mounds of wheat and 50 mounds of rice production. His income is many times that of the provincial government department.
A well-placed official from the department, seeking anonymity, said that the department lacked funding to use input for crops on government farms.
“For the cultivation of cotton, an amount of Rs 48,000 to Rs 50,000 per acre is required and for rice Rs 30,000 and wheat Rs 19,000-20,000. This means that an amount of Rs 60,000 to Rs 78,000 per acre per annum is required for crops while funds fall less than Rs 10, 000,” he added.
He said that there were encroachments on some government farms which could not be cleared due to political reasons as a result of which the department was running in loss.
About experimental farms owned by the department, he said that the main target of the farms was not to earn money. “We make experiments to increase output for a long term and in a short span of time, they do not give proper returns,” he argued.