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HindustanTimes Thu,23 Oct 2014

Farmers' interest at Kisan mela - seed
bags, not views of agriculture experts

Raghbir Singh Brar, Hindustan Times  Faridkot, March 04, 2014
First Published: 22:44 IST(4/3/2014) | Last Updated: 22:45 IST(4/3/2014)

The 6th Kisan mela organised by Punjab Agricultural University, Ludhiana, at its regional research station here failed to draw many farmers to listen to the views of its experts.

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Though a large number of farmers had visited the mela, but they were more interested in buying seeds of various crops only and showed little interest in what the experts say.

Even the attempt of the authorities to delay the distribution of seed bags for some time, to make farmers sit and listen to agriculture experts, failed to have much impact as farmers did not prefer to go to the venue.

Many chairs were found vacant among the gathering to the discomfiture of vice-chancellor Baldev Singh Dhillon, who said, "I felt sad to see many empty chairs when we entered the venue and failed to understand where the fault lies." Speaking on the mela theme of 'reducing expenses on chemicals, save environment and increase profit', he exhorted farmers to focus on profit instead of yield by bringing down unwanted expenses on chemicals and fertilisers to increase yield.

"The overuse of fertilisers and chemicals also spoils the quality of soil and environment. We must think about the environment as well. We also waste a lot of water and when we use water, we must think what we are leaving for our next generations, he said.

About diversification, he said that farmers can at least bring about 1.5 lakh acres out of the crop rotation by growing vegetables for personal use in kitchen gardens.

Kahan Singh Pannu, secretary, agriculture, who was the chief guest, spoke about the mechanisation of the cotton crop from sowing to plucking. "Cotton can also be an alternative to paddy but, as it is a labour-intensive crop from the beginning to end, farmers are reluctant to go in for it. But, now we have also found a solution to the problem of plucking. We can pluck it by machines in one go, instead of 3 to 4 pluckings manually," Pannu said.

"We were encouraged from our experiment on it last year in Abohar and, we shall bring about 1,800 acres of cotton under this technique in Malwa," Pannu said.

About the exploitation of subsoil water, HS Dhaliwal, an agriculture expert, said, "We need 4.45 million hectare metre of water while the availability is only 3.04. We have a deficit of 1.41 million hectare metres of water which is being exploited from the ground."

"University experts offer advice which is not practicable for many farmers. The farmers have many limitations such as small land holdings, illiteracy etc.

The diversification is possible only when the market of other crops is ensured, which is presently not," said Sukhjinder Singh, a farmer from Niamiwala village.

"Farmers are moistly interested in buying seed bags, but even there they had to face a lot harassment due to long queues. The mela lasted just for a few hours and at about 2 pm, it was over," said Jaswinder Singh, a farmer at the mela.

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