Friday, November 9, 2012



A four-day 5th Indian Horticultural Congress on "Horticulture for Food and Environment Security," organized by Punjab Agricultural University (PAU) in association with the Horticultural Society of India (HSI), concluded here today. A close and detailed farmer-scientist interaction was held wherein members of PAU Kisan Club, progressive farmers from across the state and farm experts from prominent agri-institutions participated.

Chairing the concluding session, Dr Baldev Singh Dhillon, Vice-Chancellor, PAU, emphasized the need for setting-up of location specific processing plant in various parts of the state. Referring to cooperative farming, he exhorted the farmers to work in groups, share common bond and identify each other's interests and problems. Dr Dhillon said that the cross-border trade at Attari-Wagah Border will fortify the export of fruits and vegetables to Pakistan and benefit the farmers too. The PAU has been and will be making vigorous efforts to transfer technology to the farmers on different aspects of horticulture, by training them at Krishi Vigyan Kendras (KVKs). The farmers should pass their feedback immediately to the PAU for reprioritization of the research programmes, advised he.

The Co-chairman of the session, Dr M.S. Gill, Director of Extension Education, PAU, said that integrated check post (ICP) at Attari-Wagah Border, which became functional this year to facilitate shipment of goods, will boost India's export of vegetables like tomato and cucumber to Pakistan. Therefore, the state farmers should make key contribution to the same, he said, disclosing that the PAU will be also imparting training to the farmers for participation in the international trade fair.

Dr A.M. Narula, Zonal Project Director, ICAR, Zone-I, PAU, Ludhiana, also co-chaired the technical session.

The President of HSI, Dr K.L. Chadha said that the growth of agriculture is dependent on farm diversification. Divulging that the Government of India has formulated a diversification plan of worth Rs 50,000 crore, he informed that nearly one lakh hectare area is being proposed to be brought under it. Although, horticulture has made a tremendous progress giving India a place of pride as the second largest producer of fruits and vegetables in the world after China, yet there are concerns for the major stakeholder i.e. farmer of the country, said Dr Chadha. He emphasized that it is vital to understand the problems, needs and requirements of the farming community for the development of horticulture in the Punjab state.

Sharing their experiences of diversification through horticulture, the progressive farmers said that innovative farming is essential to improve soil health, water-table, cropping intensity in addition to meeting challenges of climate change and enhancing profitability. The horticulture production plays a major role in diversification, highlighted they, while expressing concern over the unstable produce rates, no support price and crop insurance. In case of natural calamity, there is no compensation for horticulturists for damaged or low produce. There is a lack of processing facilities for horticultural produce, they added. Stressing that the farmers should be provided with accurate weather forecasting, they said that different business projects should be encouraged for setting-up the processing units and promotion of export. Besides, there should be heavy subsidy on solar motors, suggested they, saying that at least 75 per cent subsidy should be given for fencing the orchards with barbed wire. Remarking that the sale of horticultural goods holds great scope within the country, they underlined the need for suitable train budget for carrying goods to other places. The farmers also delved upon the straw management, net-house cultivation of vegetables and problems being faced in marketing of agricultural produce.

A panel of experts included Dr Kirti Singh, Chairperson, World Noni Research Foundation, Chennai, Tamil Nadu; Dr B.S. Chundawat, former Vice-Chancellor, Gujarat Agricultural University, Gujarat; Dr K.V. Peter, Director, World Noni Research Foundation, Chennai, Tamil Nadu; Dr D.S. Rathore, former Vice-Chancellor, Chaudhary Sarwan Kumar Himachal Pradesh Krishi Vishwavidyalaya, Palampur; and Dr K.R. Dhiman, Vice-Chancellor, YS Parmar University of Horticulture and Forestry, Nauni, Solan.

On this occasion, Dr Chadha honoured Dr B.S. Dhillon, Dr M.S. Gill, Dr D.S. Cheema, Dean of PAU College of Agriculture, Dr H.S. Dhaliwal, Additional Director of Extension Education, PAU, and Dr T.S. Riar, Associate Professor of Extension Education and Coordinator of PAU Kisan Club.

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