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The experts of Punjab Agricultural University (PAU) appealed to the school children to come forward to combat the problem of farm fires, the rise of which was dangerous and hazardous for the environment and the public at large. During the awareness camp on “Crop Residue Management and Crop Diversification” at the Government High School, Rarka, the B.Sc. Horticulture students of the fourth year of the Rural Agricultural Work Experience (RAWE) urged the school students and the villagers to stop their elders and fellow farmers from putting paddy straw on fire and motivate them to go in for in-situ management.

The chief guest Dr MIS Gill, Dean, College of Horticulture and Forestry, made a call for adopting in-field technologies for rice residue management. Highlighting the pivotal role of horticulture in diversification, Dr Gill stressed upon coming out of traditional wheat-paddy pattern for agricultural and environment sustainability.

Dr Jagrup Kaur, an expert, warned the villagers against stubble burning which resulted in breathing problems for young and old, accidents on roads, and poor soil health. She also provided tips for the successful cultivation of wheat.

Emphasizing on dousing farm fires, the Coordinator Dr Jaswinder Singh Brar suggested youths to make a significant contribution towards their direction for the welfare of humanity. He also apprised the students of the academic programmes of PAU which laid special focus on rural agriculture, rural culture, and crop varieties and their matching production-protection technologies.

The retired Principal Sardar Harjinder Pal Singh also created awareness regarding paddy straw management and advised the students to adopt agriculture as a profession.

Experts Dr Simrat Singh and Dr KS Bhullar explained the importance of fruit cultivation in agri-diversification, and fruit and vegetable cultivation in kitchen garden, respectively.

Sardar Lakhvir Singh, Agricultural Development Officer of Sudhar Block, informed about the subsidies being offered by the State government on farm machinery and wheat seed.

The Incharge of Rurka village Dr Manveen Kaur Baath assured that the efforts of PAU won’t go in vain but would help in decreasing paddy stubble burning and switching over to alternate crops such as fruit, vegetables, flowers and forestry for profitable and sustainable agriculture.

The village Sarpanch Sardar Ranveer Singh proposed a vote of thanks.

On the occasion, a rally was taken out by the experts and the students to spread the message of pollution-free environment. Besides, a poster making competition was also organized for the school students and later, winners were awarded prizes. A skit, showcasing the disastrous effects of paddy cultivation in terms of water depletion, soil health deterioration and air pollution, was enacted by the PAU students, namely Pragati, Raksa, Balkaran and Chamandeep. Present on the occasion were Dr Dilpreet Talwar and Dr Ashok Dhakkar, PAU experts. The programme was conducted by the student Balreet Kaur.

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