Monday, March 14, 2011



The campus of the Regional Station Bathinda witnessed a flood of farmers, as Punjab Agricultural University (PAU) organized its regional Kisan Mela, today. Thousands of farmers, who came to attend the mela, were seen keen to get new seeds as well as learn new field worthy knowledge. Mr Balwinder Singh Bhunder, Member, Rajya Sabha was the Chief Guest while the PAU Vice Chancellor, Dr Manjit Singh Kang presided over.

Appreciating PAU for its pro-farmer programmes, Mr Bhunder said that farmers should get the maximum advantages of the PAU kisan melas by interacting with the experts, visiting the technology stalls and purchasing farm literature through special sale outlets put up there. The regional kisan melas hold special significance as these bring into focus, the region specific issues, he said adding that there were many problems associated with the farming at present and that the PAU scientists are fully aware to address those. Punjab farmers had been contributing toward national food security, he remarked. He said that farmers must also keep away from social vices such as excessive drinking and rather focus on purchasing farm literature and reorienting their farming. The farmers must stay away from the middlemen and should learn the art of self marketing their farm produce to get maximum profit, said he, adding that farmers must also take on to some subsidiary agricultural occupation such as bee-keeping, mushroom growing, nursery production, dairy farming, etc. in order to supplement their farm profitability.

Mr Bhunder said that PAU should develop technologies for eco-friendly agriculture that should address the problem of using brackish water, safely which is serious in south-western Punjab. He emphasized that the water being turning to be a commodity of short supply, is likely to be a cause of concern for different countries. Mr Bhunder suggested farmers to include fodders, pulses crops and non-chemical inputs for the sake of soil health and eco-friendly agriculture. He said that cotton has brightened its prospects due to the large scale adoption of Bt cotton and relevant technologies and that the current demand and supply system favoured cotton. He stressed that the contemporary agriculture being dependent on excessive use of chemical inputs has faced contamination of environment, water, soil, and farm commodities, vegetables and milk. Mr Bhunder advised them to keep a constant liaison with the university scientists through KVKs and FASS. He congratulated the PAU Vice Chancellor, its scientists, and the Punjab Chief Minister, S. Parkash Singh Badal for PAU being bestowed with the 'best agricultural university of India' award.

Addressing the farmers, Dr Kang said that Kisan Melas provide the scientists, an opportunity to talk face-to-face with farmers and help them solve farm problems. He said agriculture today has become greatly knowledge-intensive and farmers need to know the latest technologies to improve their farming. Highlighting the problems of depleting water table and deteriorating soil resources, Dr Kang said that PAU is emphasising on natural resource conservation technologies such as leaf colour chart, tensiometer, laser land leveller and Happy Seeder machine. This year's mela theme 'Kheti Naveenta Apnao; Jiwan Miar Vadhao ' (Better living standard through innovative agriculture) aims to educate the farmers to adopt latest technologies. He informed that PAU has developed technologies to augment water use-efficiency and eco-friendly agriculture.

Dr Kang pleaded the farmers not to burn their crop residue in the field as it not only adds to pollution but also wastes precious nutrients. He informed that burning of one ton of paddy straw wastes 6 kg of Nitrogen, one kg of phosphorus and 12 kg of potash, adding that by burning 1.5 lakh tonnes of paddy straw, nutrients worth Rs 200 crore are wasted every year. The government is thinking to ban this ill practice, he said. Since agriculture today has become knowledge-intensive, he urged farmers to make a habit of reading the farm literature to keep them abreast with latest knowledge. He said that farmers should keep pace with the changing time and accordingly reshape farming operations to excel in farming. He mentioned that farmers\' income can be promoted through horticulture-based occupations and processing of fruit and vegetables offer great opportunities for increasing farm income. Dr Kang shared that the PAU has given focus on research on biotechnology, influence of climate change on agriculture, precision farming techniques, etc., to help the emerging issues in Punjab agriculture. He shared that PAU has inked MoUs with several global institutes to addresses issues in the cutting edge areas. He called upon the farmers and farm women to send their matriculate children for admission to six year B.Sc programmes in Agriculture and Home Science at PAU, which, he said, had been a success since the last three years. He said that farmers\' feedback meant a great input for PAU researchers as they help the reprioritization process to make the programmes need-based.

In his welcome address Director of Extension Education, Dr. M.S.Gill said that kisan melas are organised for quick transfer of farm technologies to farmers. Lauding the role of Punjab farmers for country's food security, Dr Gill said some new problems such as deficiency of soil nutrients depleting water have emerged in Punjab. Profitability in farming has lowered as it has become competitive, today. He requested farmers to ensure optimum use of farm inputs and techniques to preserve soil, water and nutrients. He suggested farmers to adapt less-water using crops and include pulses in the cropping pattern. Dr Gill informed that the university through its 17 KVKs and 12 FASS was disseminating modern farming methods to farmers. Efforts are made to promote diversification in the state with a focus on horticulture-based system for sustainability. Farmers should adopt machinery for enhancing efficiency, dealing with labour shortage and for resource conservation base, said Dr Gill.

Dr. S.S.Gosal, Director of Research, while highlighting the research achievements of the university said that the focus is being laid on developing technologies that conserve resources and are cost-effective. Giving details of the newly released varieties, he informed that durum wheat variety PBW 621 is resistant to yellow rust while the moong variety SML 832 is resistant to virus and that the high yielding and disease tolerant variety should be preferred. He said that PAU has recommended a new variety Fdk 124, of desi cotton. Dr Gosal informed that future research at the university is aimed to develop production and protection technologies suitable for small farmers, diversified farming and for promoting profitability. He highlighted the benefits of hybrid varieties of crops.

Dr Jagtar Singh Dhiman, Additional Director Communication suggested farmers to create their own home libraries of farm literature and be the regular reader of farm supplements in news-papers and listen to the agricultural programmes on radio and television. He presented an overview of different type of farm literature and magazines brought out by PAU.

Dignitaries and participating farmers were shown around the live demonstrations and exhibits, that were arranged to project latest technologies evolved by different PAU departments. The queries of farmers were addressed by subject matter experts of PAU, who also diagnosed the sick crop samples of the farmers. Farmers were seen making bee-line for the purchase of improved seed, farm literature and horticultural plants. There was huge demand for PR-118, Pusa-1121 varieties of paddy, SML-668 of mungbean and mini kits of summer vegetables.

Prizes were awarded to the winning entries of the produce competition and other contests such as mehndi competition, noodle making, etc. that were held. Mr Bhunder and Dr Kang were honoured with mementos. The Kisan mela started with the lighting of the holy lamp followed by Shabad Gyan. The Malwai Gidha performed by Baba Farid Public School, Bathinda, enthralled the audience. Dr V.P. Mittal Director of the station proposed vote of thanks to the chief guest, guests of honours, experts, farmers and farm women participating in the mela. Dr G.S. Romana managed the stage.
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