Here's a new way of bringing ignorant farmers to book. After many years of seminars, meetings, and farm fairs every sowing season, kharif or rabi, the agriculture department has taken a new initiative of giving away agricultural literature free of cost.
A 200-page book will take the details of every main crop of the state to farmers every season. The department has 30,000 copies of the kharif edition (English and Punjabi versions) ready for distribution in 12,885 villages across Punjab.
A few days ago, Punjab Agricultural University (PAU), Ludhiana, had issued a report that farmers of the state put Rs 170 crore worth of needless fertiliser in soil every year. The first edition of the book spells out how this has contaminated groundwater with nitrogen over the past two decades.
Farmers know they have damaged underground water. "No doubt, we put excess fertiliser into the soil," said Labh Singh, former sarpanch of Baghele Wala village in the district. "We need more awareness."
Excessive and untimely application of nitrogen fertiliser can make nitrogen escape from the soil-plant systems to water bodies and the atmosphere, creating horrendous pollution. When nitrogen escapes to the atmosphere, the oxides of this element break the ozone layer, and cause serious health hazards for generations to come.
Farmers do try to contact officials concerned for information on the correct application of fertilisers. "Many times, our voice goes unheard," said Kulwinder Singh, progressive farmer of Bhinder Kalan village. "The book will help."
Of the 30,000 books, the department will distribute 795 in Moga district. "The cost of each book is Rs 40," said agriculture development officer (ADO) Jaswinder Singh Brar, winner of a state award. "To 326 villages, 165 farmer friends, and 304 other progressive farmers in the district, the literature will reach free of cost in another few days."
The book's title is "Package of Practices for Crops of Punjab). "Agriculture Technology Management Agency (ATMA) is partner in its making," said Ravi Kumar Sabharwal, chief agriculture officer of Moga. "In this book, sarpanches and progressive farmers can find all the recommendations of the
PAU, and then they can share this information with the other farmers in their villages."
The first edition contains the entire information about kharif crop such as moong, paddy, corn, cotton, and all the seasonal vegetables. "Experts from the PAU bring out an edition of the book every crop season," said agriculture minister Tota Singh, "but for the first time, the agriculture department has purchased a high number of copies for distribution."
The government will also organise agricultural awareness camps at grain markets.