Friday, March 15, 2013



A two-day "Kisan Mela" began today at the Punjab Agricultural University (PAU) amidst massive gathering of the farmers from across the Punjab state. The mela aims at promoting crop diversification and kitchen garden concept through its theme "Ghar di sabzi-dal ugao: sihat banao, paise bachao (Grow vegetables and pulses in your household kitchen garden: Save money and Stay healthy)." The visiting delegations from Italy; Ohio State University, USA; and Egerton University, Kenya; also participated in the inaugural session of the mela.

In his inaugural remarks, the Chief Guest Dr G.S. Kalkat, Chairman, Punjab State Farmers' Commission, expressed concern over the depleting underground water table in the Punjab state. "In the next 5 to 10 years, there will be no water for the cultivation of paddy as well as wheat," he observed, while calling upon the farmers to adopt crop diversification and grow maize, vegetables, and pulses including soybean as alternative crops. Voicing concern over rising pollution due to paddy straw burning, Dr Kalkat suggested the adoption of Happy Seeder and Baler technologies for proper utilization of straw. The Happy Seeder machine is an excellent machine for wheat sowing and harvesting of paddy with combines. It should be available in every village of the Punjab, he emphasized, saying "We will be giving subsidy of Rs 70,000 for the purchase of the Happy Seeder." Dr Kalkat revealed, "We are planning to increase the milk production from 14 kg to 25 kg per cattle per day." He also emphasized on improving the school education system in the state.

In his presidential remarks, Dr Baldev Singh Dhillon, Vice-Chancellor, PAU, impressed upon the farmers to diversify their farms, and make judicious use of water, pesticides and fertilizers for good economic returns, conservation of natural resources, and for saving environment. "If 12 lakh farming families of the state are encouraged to grow vegetables and pulses in one kanal, 1.5 lakh hectare can be brought under diversification," he noted. The farmers should also go in for subsidiary occupations such as bee-keeping, mushroom cultivation, and diary, poultry and fish farming. He said that mela serves the dual purpose i.e. equipping the farmers with farm worthy knowledge and receiving the valuable feedback in view of their experiences in fields.

Dr Mangal S. Sandhu, Director of Agriculture, Punjab, said that the state is about to witness bumper wheat crop production this year also. "Alongwith the judicious use of agro-chemicals, judicious irrigation is also vital," he emphasized, saying that the drip irrigation should be promoted for this purpose. Vermi-composting is also essential to improve soil health and fertility, he added. About crop diversification, Dr Sandhu said, "We have set the target of shifting 10 to 12 lakh hectare area under paddy to various other crops." Laying thrust on value-addition, he said that it is essential to connect with the farmers for this purpose and promote agro-industry.

Dr S.S. Gosal, Director of Research, PAU, highlighting the research activities, said that the University is laying special emphasis on plant and soil health management, green chemicals, climate resilient crop varieties, bio-fertilizers, bio-pesticides, post-harvest management (fruits, vegetables and flowers), value addition, and energy production from bio-mass. He told that the PAU has released several new varieties such as "PR 121, and PR 122" of paddy, "Punjab Basmati 3 and Pusa Punjab Basmati 1509" of basmati rice, "LH 2108 and NCS 855 BG II" of American cotton, and "HG 365" of guar. Besides, nine varieties of horticultural crops including "Punjab Tej" and Punjab Sindhuri" of chilli; "PBH 3" of brinjal; "Shweta" of guava; "Punjab Glad I" of gladiolus; and "Punjab Purple Wave" and "Punjab Choco Gold" of pansy have been released for general cultivation in the state. He also highlighted the various production and plant protection technologies.

Earlier, Dr M.S. Gill, Director of Extension Education, PAU, welcomed the dignitaries, farmers and farm women. He suggested the farmers to take the timely technical advice from the scientists at 17 Krishi Vigyan Kendras and 12 Farm Advisory Service Scheme, operating in different parts of the state. In view of depleting water resources, he urged the farmers to avoid flood irrigation and use sprinkler irrigation system for saving water. Advising the farmers to adopt resource conservation technologies, he highlighted the significance of the protected cultivation of vegetables. Dr Gill called upon the farmers to read PAU farm literature regularly and get new guidelines from the same.

Dr H.S. Dhaliwal, Additional Director of Extension Education, PAU, proposed the vote of thanks.

The dignitaries released a set of PAU publications brought out by Centre for Communication and International Linkages. The dignitaries were also honoured with the shawls and mementos.

On this occasion six progressive farmers were honoured namely Sh. Sushil Periwal of Fazilka (Chief Minister Award in Agriculture); S. Davinder Singh of Jalandhar (Chief Minister Award in Agriculture), S. Gurraj Singh Virk of Faridkot (Chief Minister Award in Horticulture); S. Sirbeerinder Singh Sidhu of Shri Muktsar Sahib (CRI Award for adopting improved farm mechanization); Er. Jaswinder S. Gill of Tarn Taran (CRI Award for adopting improved water management technologies) and Sh. Vinod Jyani of Fazilka (CRI Award for adopting organic farming).
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