Patiala: The Punjab Cooperation Minister, Capt Kanwaljit Singh, today called upon the experts of Punjab Agriculture University (PAU), Ludhiana, to adopt a new approach to develop means for increasing crop production and strengthening the financial conditions of farmers. After inaugurating the kisan mela at Rauni village, the minister said that the farmers have utilised the underground water and fertilisers efficiently in order to fulfill the food demand of the country. However, they have gained nothing but the burden of loans. He said the farmers of the state have been contributing more than 60 per cent of the total national food requirement but they are suffering a loss of about Rs 1,500 crore annually. He urged the agriculture technology experts to take immediate steps to bail out farmers from the present crisis. He said that more than 2 lakh farmers in the state have quit farming during the last decade and 80,000 of them have now started out as labourers in different sectors. He said that in order to improve crop production and increase the income of farmers, special attention and policy formulation are needed. He asked the experts to search for new markets for the farmers' produce. He gave the example of Maharashtra, which is producing grapes in bulk and exporting them to various countries. He urged the PAU to take a lead in this direction. Referring to the loan waiver by the Center, the minister said that it is for the first time that the government has acknowledged the crisis of the food producers. He said that due to the wrong policies of the previous state government, growth rate of the state had come down to only 2 per cent. He strongly supported the continuation of subsidies for the farmers of the country. Capt Kanwaljit urged the farmers to adopt dairy farming and production of fruits and vegetables on a large scale instead of the traditional wheat and paddy farming. He said that a special plant is being set up in Nawanshehr for increasing Basmati rice production, which would contribute immensely in promoting the sowing of Basmati.