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A two-day Kisan Mela kicked off at Punjab Agricultural University (PAU) today. Although rain played a spoilsport in the morning, yet the bright sunshine in the noon was a big relief and cheered up the spirits of the Punjab farmers. About 60,000 to 62,000 farmers were connected with the mela via online mode. The theme of the mela was “Aao kheti karch khataiye, vaadu paani, khaad na paiye” (Reduce farm expenditure by making optimal use of water and fertilizers).

Dr Bikram Gill, a noted wheat breeder from Kansas State University, USA, who was the chief guest, recalled his yester years and stated: “I am also a son of farmer. We were eight brothers and my father was a Sarpanch. My father told us that I am not educated, but you all brothers must pursue education. If we can progress in life, why not you and your wards?” Extolling PAU for its remarkable contribution to the nation’s food buffer and being a world-renowned agricultural institution, Dr Gill urged the farmers to encourage their wards to pursue agricultural education at PAU. He also warned the farmers against the excessive use of water, which in the next 15 years can lead to water insecurity. Making a call for conserving five essential resources comprising land, sunlight, water, air and germpalsm, he appealed to the farmers to be water secure by making responsible use of water.

In his presidential remarks, Dr Satbir Singh Gosal, Vice-Chancellor, PAU, called upon the farmers to adopt crop diversification by enhancing area under basmati and cotton for large-scale benefits; avoid sowing summer moong where cotton is being planted; make judicious use of pesticides to avoid rejection of consignments; go in for in-situ paddy straw management; opt for drip irrigation in spring maize; practise integrated farming system model and use solar energy. The State government was employing a matriculate youth as Kisan Mitar in more than 12,000 villages of Punjab to help the farmers; these Kisan Mitars will be trained by PAU and equipped with all the essential agriculture knowledge, told he. “PAU developed wheat variety PBW 826 has been released in Jammu and Kolkatta and that Punjab farmers must grow this variety,” he stressed. Dr Gosal advised the farmers to avail the long-term benefits of Skill Development Centre, Food Industry Business Incubation Centre, PAU Kisan App, PAU Inputs App, weekly digital newspaper Kheti Sandesh, PAU Live Programme on Facebook and YouTube, etc.

Highlighting the research accomplishments, Dr AS Dhatt, Director of Research, explained the salient characteristics of the newly released varieties, namely Anna and Dorsett Golden of apple, Red Dragon 1 and White Dragon 1 of dragon fruit, Punjab Potato 101 and Punjab Potato 102 of potato, Punjab Khushboo of coriander, PKH 11 of cucumber, Punjab Sarda of muskmelon, Punjab Jamuni and Punjab Roshni of carrot, Punjab Himmat of brinjal, Punjab Lalima of okra, Punjab Bahar Guldaudi 1 and Punjab Bahar Guldaudi 2 of chrysanthemum, Punjab Dek 1 and Punjab Dek 2 of dek, and PMH 14 of maize. He also threw light on the latest recommendations concerning production and protection technologies of various crops.

Welcoming the farmers, Dr GS Buttar, Director of Extension Education, voiced concern over pressing challenge of climate change and groundwater depletion, and divulged: “Out of 150 blocks, 115 blocks have been declared as dark zones.” He advocated paddy transplanting after June 20 and adoption of early maturing, less water requiring ‘PR’ varieties such as PR 126 of paddy.

Dr Sukhpal Singh, Chairman, Punjab State Farmers’ and Farm Workers’ Commission, pointed out the rising number of farm suicides in Punjab as compared to the other states. “Punjab is having an ardent support of the State government. We invite the feedback and suggestions of the farmers at mobile number 75080-18998 and phone number 0172-2969340 so that a profitable agricultural policy can be framed” he said to the visiting farmers. He also promoted value addition and agro-processing for lucrative economic returns.

Conducting the programme, Dr TS Riar, Additional Director Communication, urged the farmers to purchase PAU farm publications that provided updated agricultural information.

Five progressive farmers were feted for excellence in agriculture and horticulture. Jatinder Singh, a resident of village Munda, district Tarn Taran, and Gurvinder Singh Sohi, a resident of village Nanowal Khurd, district Fatehgarh Sahib, were conferred with “Chief Minister Awards.” Two “CRI Pump Awards” were bestowed upon farmers, namely Jagdeep Singh, a resident of village Sandhuan, district Rupnagar; and Dhandeep Singh, a resident of village Kutbeywalan Gujran, Ludhiana. Sukhdev Singh, a resident of village Miranpur, district Patiala, was awarded “Sardarni Prakash Kaur Sra Memorial Award.”

Dr Beant Singh Ahluwalia, an eminent scientist from Vienna; Ludhiana Police Commissioner Sardar Mandeep Singh Sidhu; Kiranjeet Kaur Gill, Hardiyal Singh Gaznipur and Amanpreet Singh Brar, Members, PAU Board of Management, also graced the occasion and were honoured.

Ludhiana Police Commissioner Sardar Mandeep Singh Sidhu has also shared the importance of the Kisan Melas and social problems with the farmers.

Competitions in the preparation of decorative articles, crop produce, use of millets for nutritious products, and on the spot drawing competition “A scene depicting simple and happy life” were also organised for the farmers, farm women and children.

At the mela, a long queue of farmers was seen purchasing fruit plants, flower seed and seedlings, biofertilizers, cereal and oilseed crops, vegetable seed kits and seedlings, and processed products such as multigrain atta, pickles, fruit squashes, ready to service fruit juice, multigrain cookies, tomato products, etc.

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