Thursday, March 17, 2011



Punjab Agricultural University (PAU) campus was humming with activities as thousands of farmers from all over Punjab thronged the campus to participate in the two–day Kisan Mela which began today.

Inaugurating the mela, the chief guest S. Ajmer Singh Lakhowal, Chairman, Punjab Mandi Board, said that PAU Kisan Mela is not only the fair of agriculture, but of scientific knowledge also. Since its inception in 1962, PAU has been rendering a yeoman's service to address the technical needs of the farming community and was also instrumental in ushering in an era of green revolution. It goes to the credit of PAU and the Punjab farmers that the food-deficit was wiped out in the country. S. Lakhowal added that Punjab was contributing 40% of the food grain to the central pool, despite the fact that it had only about 2% of the total area of the country for farming. He disclosed that 60 % of wheat and 40% of rice was being contributed to the nation's kitty by the Punjab farmers, by adopting PAU techniques and technologies.

Voicing concern over the population explosion, he said that production was decreasing and food insecurity was a matter of serious concern. S. Lakhowal told that the much talked about diversification of agriculture was not possible unless Minimum Support Price (MSP) was assured for crops like vegetables, pulses, and oilseeds. The government was spending crores of rupees on importing oilseeds and pulses but was not ready to assure adequate MSP for these crops. Quoting Lal Bahandur Shastri's slogan 'Jai jawan, Jai Kisan,' he said farmers have not been given the due respect they deserve. Referring to his recent meeting with the Prime Minister (PM) Dr Manmohan Singh, he divulged that PM was apprised of the agricultural concerns of the country and pro-farming steps required. S. Lakhowal highlighted the economic and ecological problems associated with intensive agriculture especially involving rice-wheat system. He urged upon the PM to ensure remunerative prices for the agriculture produce to the farmers. Punjab wheat has a rich food value and Punjab agriculture is best in the country, said S. Lakhowal adding that farmers have done wonders for raising foodgrain production. He drew attention towards efficient marketing system and handling market arrivals. There is a need of excellent storage structures to handle foodgrains, he observed. He complimented PAU for providing focus to climate change which is a serious issue in the face of agriculture. S. Lakhowal said that farmers should follow the recommendations of PAU and purchase seeds approved by it. He emphasized that we must develop nationalistic character and work for the well being of the country.

In his presidential remarks, Dr Manjit Singh Kang, Vice-Chancellor, PAU, said that agriculture was facing lot of challenges and the biggest problem was depletion of the ground water level and the climatic changes which were adversely affecting agriculture production. He stressed that the farming was becoming a costly affair and the farmers were required to adopt better methods for cultivation. Dr Kang added, "Recently, PAU has been adjudged as the 'Best Farm Varsity 2011' of India\". Besides the untiring efforts of PAU scientists, the hard work of farmers, who repose full faith in the university experts and the techniques designed by them, was responsible for the agricultural development, that fetched the best Farm Varsity 2011 Award for PAU, observed Dr. Kang. He thanked farmers and farm women for their massive participation in the Kisan Mela.

On this occasion, S.Lakhowal and Dr Kang honoured four innovative and progressive farmers namely Iqbal Singh Sidhu and Gurpreet Singh Shergill (both in Horticulture) and Surinder Kumar Ahuja and Surjit Singh Chaggar (both in Agriculture) with Chief Minister's Award. The award carried a Citation, a shawl, a certificate and cash prize. On this occasion, famous singer Pami Bai and the PAU Associate Director of Extension Education, Dr. Kanwal Mahindra were specially honoured for their contributions. The dignitaries who were present on the occasion included eminent economist and former Vice-Chancellor, Dr. S.S.Johl, members of PAU Board of Management, Mrs. Urwinder Kaur Grewal and Dr. B.S.Boparai, eminent writer, S. Gurdit Singh Kang, registrar, deans, directors, additional directors, coordinators of research, heads and members of faculty of various departments of PAU.

Dr M.S. Gill, Director of Extension Education, PAU and the Chief Organizer of the mela, while welcoming the chief guest, presiding officer, farmers and other dignitaries, highlighted the challenges facing the farming community. Dr Gill revealed that Punjab needed 4.38 million hectare of water for raising better crops but only 3.13 million hectare water was available. Pointing to Kisan Mela, he said that 300 stalls of farm machinery and allied agriculture sectors have been put up at PAU. He impressed upon the farmers to study farm literature, published by PAU Communication Centre, regularly. He said that PAU has developed technologies for efficient management of water and other resources such as laser land leveler, tensiometer, direct seeding of rice, etc. Asking farmers to get maximum knowlege and redressal of their queries from experts during the mela, Dr. Gill said that they must visit the technical stalls and demonstration plots showcasing latest technologies.

Dr SS Gosal, Director of Research, PAU, addressing the farmers, gave an overview of the research activities of the university. He revealed that PAU has released 695 varieties and hybrids of 95 crops till date. He said that PAU was now engaged in developing crop varieties which require less water and was also developing farm machinery which can be utilized in the farm operations. Besides working on Conservation and Precision agriculture in collaboration with various international universities to increase the production, PAU has developed some new varieties including Desi cotton FDK 124, Pear (Nijisseiki) and four varieties of Gladiolus (Punjab Pink Elegance, Punjab Flame, Punjab Glance and Punjab Lemon Delight). Leaf Colour Chart (LCC) technology developed by PAU for need based fertilizer nitrogen applications in maize, costed Rs 35 only, he added and stated that research on bee- keeping, GM crops and Bt crops was also going on.

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