A retired army officer-turned-farmer has done the city and the district proud by winning one of the top 'krishi' awards of the country for his innovative technique in kinnow cultivation.
Major Manmohan Singh (retd) received the Krishak Samrat Samman from union minister of state for agriculture and cooperation Tanvir Ahmed in New Delhi on Friday. He was chosen for the award from the north zone. The award was part of the Mahindra Samriddhi India agricultural awards. Also present on the occasion was Anand Mahindra, CMD of Mahindra and Mahindra Limited.
The award carried a trophy, a citation and a cash prize of Rs 51,000. The jury that selected the farmers for the awards was headed by Ashish Bahuguna, secretary in the ministry of agriculture.
Maj Singh, who has a 17-acre orchard of kinnows at Phriwara village near Ajnala, was picked for breaking established norms and for being instrumental in driving sustainable and innovative farming technologies. His innovative approach has made a positive impact on the agricultural community.
HT had last year highlighted Maj Singh's new system of crop spacing in kinnow cultivation. This spacing known as 'ventilator practice' involves 20x10 feet spacing between kinnow plants, thus sowing 220 plants in one acre.
The net result of this approach was that he got a productivity of 2,400 kg kinnows from an acre this season. The sunlight made available to the inner side of the plant resulted in healthier and bigger-sized fruit and longer life of the orchards.
"I am happy that my services towards the farming community have been noticed. Farming is a hobby to me and I like to take risks in experimenting with new methods of cultivation," Maj Singh told HT here on Sunday as he held his award.
Generally it was thought that kinnow is a crop of Hoshiarpur and Ferozepur districts or could be grown in other parts of the Malwa belt. But the major has proved that the fruit can also be grown in the Majha area. Besides kinnow, the major is into pear and plum cultivation, agro-forestry and turmeric cultivation. He has recently grown sugarcane using the single-bud technique which was until recently only known in the Phagwara belt.
His earlier awards include Award of Honour in 2009 by Bharat Krishak Samaj, the Chief Minister's Award for Horticulture by Punjab Agricultural University and the Punjab state award for horticulture. He also won the Innovative Farmers Award in 2012 from Dr YS Parmar University of Horticulture and Forestry, Nauni, Solan, and the Global Agricultural Connect-2012 award.