October 24, 2006


Punjab farmers seek Canada bonanza (Sanjoy Majumder, 10/24/06, BBC News)

Over a cup of tea, [Harkirat Singh] tells me that the future of his trade appears bleak.

"It's becoming very difficult to farm in Punjab. We are working against all odds. We have endless power cuts. If we have to depend on generators it's too expensive. Diesel costs are rising all the time.

"There is also no sense of security for people like us, those who have a bit of land."

His wife Jasveen thinks it's best for their little son.

"I think the system there is much better. There is no sense of law and order here. And then there is the education opportunities which will be much better for our child," she says.

But while life in Punjab is indeed becoming harder, the Singhs are also cashing in on a real estate boom.

With the value of land increasing, they are able to generate enough money by selling a part of their farm to buy a farm of their own in Canada.

"Land has become so valuable here now that even if you sell five to six acres here you can buy thousands of acres there.

"About five years ago this land would have given me $13,000 per acre. Now it's gone up to $220,000 per acre. It's becoming so expensive that it's not worth farming on anymore."

It's a realisation that is dawning across a whole generation of Punjabi farmers. With real estate developers eyeing vast tracts of farmland across Punjab, many here are tempted to sell their land and move on.

And there are a number of immigration agencies all across Punjab which can help them avail of the opportunities and also make the transition.

One of the biggest is the World Wide Immigration Consultancy Services which operates out of a vast complex in the Punjab capital, Chandigarh, that was once a television manufacturing factory.

The call centre operators assist prospective immigrants over the phone after which they are helped with the daunting application process, which can sometimes take several years.

Retired government official JS Ahluwalia explains why there is growing demand for farmers in Canada.

"They need immigrants because by 2016 the rate of growth of their population will be negative," he says.

Many farms in Canada are being abandoned because their owners are too old and the next generation has switched careers or migrated to the cities.

"So they need outsiders to come in and do the job. We are one of the countries providing it," he adds.

So with an investment of 150,000 Canadian dollars ($130,000), a farmer in Punjab can buy a farm in Canada.

Posted by Orrin Judd at October 24, 2006 9:06 AM

Welcome to the Anglosphere.

Posted by: Sandy P at October 24, 2006 3:41 PM

Given the putrid politics of IL, I may buy a "winter home" in Mexico, and live out my retirment as a Canadian farmer.

It's a good thing the "one worlders" are building a multi-lane highway through the middle of it all.

Posted by: Bruno at October 25, 2006 1:21 AM