Farmers selling their farm equipment is a tell tale sign of distress among community. Considerable number of farmers have started selling their farm equipment and started renting out their land. This trend is fast picking up in Punjab, which is considered as food bowl of India. The situation is far different from the heyday of green revolution of 1960. Today farming is looking at zero to negative growth rate.
Punjab was state where potential of irrigation, mechanized farming and multi-cropping is fully realized and utilized. But to the horror of administration despite of availability of all modern techniques of farming and knowledge-base, still it's not showing any positive signs of being a profitable profession.
Green revolution, soaring prices of basic commodities and decreasing prices of crops are few reasons for negative agricultural growth which have catalyzed the decreasing land holdings of farmers leading to negative agricultural growth.
Increase in size of family lead to fragmentation of land holdings increasing burden on farmers for more equipment; farmers expressing agriculture is no more viable.
But Punjab is registering trend in different way, with more land being consolidated as many are selling it or renting it out to big farmers who can afford the cost of mechanized farming and can bear the shock of weather and prices.
There have been approx. 40% increase in small and marginal (less than 4 hectares) land holdings of farmers in India but Punjab registered opposite trend with approx. 11% increase in large (more than 10 hectares) land holdings. (As per 1990-91 and 2010-11 data) (source - Live mint)
The above numbers doesn't present perfect picture of land consolidation going on in Punjab as leasing out farms doesn't get recorded and can't give exact stats. Leasing out small farms is strategy adopted by farmers for their survival as small farmers can't bear cost of farming anymore. One of the signs of distress among community is increasing number of suicides among farmers due to building up of loans and un-predictable market, limited support from government in-case of weather failure.
Labor shortage and multi-crop harvesting have forced to mechanization of farms and in order to fulfill the minimum possible requirements and approximate 10 Lakh investment is required for purchasing machinery and minimum 1 Lakh for it's upkeep every year. In addition to this soaring prices of fuel, fertilizers and pesticides gulps profit. Even a marginal farmer with 10 hectares of land can meet both ends of survival with only being dependent on farming.
Government must promote land consolidation and leasing of machinery to farmers instead of giving special benefits on farm equipment.