Taking a cue from last year’s bitter experience, Punjab Agricultural University (PAU) opted to keep the kisan mela a low key affair this year.
On September 22 last year, the PAU officials and Rajya Sabha MP Balwinder Singh Bhunder faced the wrath of the farmers, who were enraged by the whitefly attack. The farmers created ruckus at the mela and disallowed the PAU vice-chancellor (V-C) BS Dhillon and Bhunder to address gathering.
This year, the PAU management neither invited any politicians nor held any seminars at the mela. Even, the PAU officials and scientists restricted themselves to addressing the farmers regarding the upcoming kharif season. It may be mentioned that the seminar on kharif crops is a key feature of these seminars.
The farmers, however, attended the mela in huge number.
When asked about not holding any seminar this year, PAU V-C Baldev Singh Dhillon said “Though we hold seminars every year, this time we only met farmers and listened to their grievances and suggestions.”
Dhillon added the university may hold seminars in the upcoming fairs since many farmers found it informative and demanded to include it as a regular feature.Meanwhile, PAU set up several help desks for farmers so as to provide adequate information regarding different crops.
Farmers come up with cotton-related queries
As the whitefly pest damaged a major chunk of cotton cultivation last year, the farmers came up with cotton related queries, especially those about preventing pest attack.
Huge rush was witnessed at PAU’s cotton informative stall as the farmers primarily asked about availability of any university recommended BT cotton seed in the market, besides getting information regarding the cotton sowing practices.
Though there was no BT cotton seed available, the PAU recommended American cotton varieties including F-2383 and F-222, besides promoted ‘desi’ cotton varieties FDR 124 and LDR 949.
The farmers were also provided with special pamphlets which had full-fledged information about cotton crop.
PAU V-C, BS Dhillon, said the theme of the fair was the use of improved seeds, optimal use of farm machinery and reading of farm literature for updating the farm knowledge.
“A team of PAU experts was making all-out efforts to control whitefly in cotton, by spreading awareness through university farm literature, CDs and media. The timely management of whitefly is more important to check its further spread to other fields”, he said.
Dhillon appealed to the farmers to avoid using un-recommended cotton varieties and pesticides and follow PAU recommendations from time to time for getting good yield and better returns.
“The PAU will give demonstrations of its recommended varieties to farmers in cotton belt,” Dhillon said.
Prominent among those present on the occasion included PAU board member Karamjit Kaur Danewalia, director of research Balwinder Singh, director of extension education RS Sidhu and PAU director (Bathinda region) Paramjit Singh.