Ludhiana, September 14, 2016: The Kisan Mela at Regional Research Station, Faridkot, witnessed a humongous crowd of farmers, reasserting the validity of such melas, which are an ideal platform to reach out to the farming community at large. A colourful mêlée of more than a hundred inviting stalls, decorated with buntings, beckoned the teeming visitors.

The theme of the Kisan Mela was “PAU kheti sifarshan, faslan layi vardaan; vigyani kheti naal hi safal hon kirsan.” The theme conveys a strong message that the ‘PAU Package of Practices’ is a boon for healthy crop production. The incorporation of scientific and technological innovations is vital to achieve success in agriculture.

The Kisan Mela was inaugurated by Punjab State Awardee, Dr Raj Bahadur, a renowned orthopedician and the Vice Chancellor of Baba Farid University of Health Sciences, Faridkot. Dr B. S. Dhillon, Vice Chancellor, PAU, presided over the function. Dignitaries from PAU- Dr R. K. Ghumber, Director of Research; Dr R. S. Sidhu, Director of Extension Education; Dr Jagdish Kaur, Additional Director of Communication; as well as Dr H. S. Kalsi, Chief Agricultural Officer and the first Director of Regional Research Station, Faridkot; and Dr Pankaj Rathore, Director, Regional Research Station, Faridkot lent their presence to the occasion.

In his welcome address, Dr R. S. Sidhu expressed his gratitude towards the farmer visitors who had turned up in huge numbers, which in itself symbolized the huge success of the pastoral fair. He exhorted them to attend trainings imparted at the seventeen KVKs of the university. Such trainings would arm them with the latest knowledge to tackle the challenges which came in the form of weather, weeds, pests etc.

The Chief Guest, Dr Raj Bahadur, in his inaugural address congratulated the PAU scientists who identified crop maladies and worked relentlessly to eradicate them as well as to bring such information to the doorstep of the farmer; thus establishing a likability between scientists and doctors who are committed to improved health, albeit in their respective fields. He also raised his concerns about the rising cases of farmers’ suicides, the depletion of the water table; thereby stressing the need to go in for crop diversification and mechanized community farming. He lauded the efforts of the university for conducting such educative fairs which aided the transfer of knowledge to the farmers who are the true beneficiaries.

In his warm and sagacious address, Dr B. S. Dhillon, Vice Chancellor, PAU, expressed his heartfelt gratitude to the farmers for adopting the recommendations of the PAU experts from time to time. He encouraged them to keep up with this practice and as a word of caution, also suggested that experimenting new varieties must be limited initially; and that the results and their experiences be shared with scientists which would positively impact future research tremendously. He congratulated his farming brethren who had cooperated immensely in checking the depleting water table; leading to a positive increase of 45% in the state. He expressed his joy in sharing that an overall decrease of Rs 600 crores was witnessed in the consumption of urea, but at the same time he suggested the controlled use of phosphorous rich urea to sustain the biological health of the soil. He also advised the farming community not to resort blindly to the use of pesticides; rather use them sparingly, with discretion. Here he suggested them to resort to manual weeding in case the problem wasn’t severe. Dr Dhillon expressed satisfaction that the white fly menace had been curbed to a large extent by the collective efforts of the state government, the university and the farmers. Further, he also suggested that stubble burning be avoided and to use the same as compost. He stressed the benefits of collective mechanized farming and marketing, which have already yielded a 35% national gain as per the recent data available.

Dr Gumber, who has rendered 15 years of service at KVK, Faridkot, before joining as Director of Research, PAU, announced several new varieties of seeds released by the university. He recommended Wheat 677 and 725, which were immune to yellow and brown rust; African Sarson, which could be threshed and harvested by combines and also yielded more oil; Tomato varieties- Punjab Gaurav, Punjab Sartaj and Punjab Red Cherry; Brinjal- PB HR 42 & 43; Pea- Punjab 89, 83 & 87; Pumpkin- PBH 1 & 2, to name a few. He also recommended varieties of flowering crops such as the Gladiolas- PB 25 and Sweet Peas- PSP 43, 31, 57, 62 & 82. He further informed the audience about the improved packing technology which included the cling film/sheet for increasing the shelf life of vegetables. Dr Gumber suggested the use of the improvised Lucky Seed Drill instead of the traditional suhaga. Further, he insisted on reduced stubble burning of rice straw, which could be achieved by using PAU Happy Seeder which helps to reduce rice straw into mulch as well as helps in retaining moisture. He recommended the use of Canola oil extracted from gobhi sarson and rye. Encouraging the farmers to adopt more scientific manners in farming, he also suggested the use of Biofertilizer Consortium to improve the seed variety and also the adoption of Leaf Colour Chart which would indicate the exact amount of urea to be used. His educative remarks were much appreciated by the farmers present in the audience.

The interactive session among the PAU scientists and the farmers was quite eventful. The experts eagerly answered their queries. Their opinions on various issues were well sought after.

A cultural bonanza was offered to regale the audience. Traditional folk singers and the engaging witty repertoire of Dr. Jaswinder Bhalla, Head, Extension Education, PAU added colour to the atmosphere.

Thursday, September 15, 2016