Hiring an event management company and inviting the chief minister for the inaugural ceremony has not worked for the Kheti Virasat Mission (KVM) as three-day Natural Farming and Environment Festival that concluded on Sunday failed to pull the crowds.
For the second consecutive year, the festival was organised in Bathinda, the area most affected with cancer, for which the KVM claims to have solution in terms of organic farming.Chief minister Parkash Singh Badal's presence also failed to encourage the government departments that had sponsored the festival.
The department of local bodies, Punjab Pollution Control Board, Punjab Technical University and the department of agriculture were part of the festival.
The agriculture department had put up a stall to promote its formula of diversification and reducing use of insecticides and pesticides. However, the department packed its bags soon after the CM left the festival on the first day.
"There was no crowd to promote farming techniques. We talked to the chief agricultural officer, who said that in that case the stall was of not much use," said agricultural officer Malkeet Singh Bhullar, in charge of the stall.
Another department official said they had received some farmers on the first day, but the response was not encouraging so they decided to stay out of it.Among the dignitaries who were expected at the festival but failed to make it were MP Basudev Acharia and education minister Sikander Singh Maluka.
Talking about the absence of government departments, KVM executive director Umendra Dutt said, "Representation of government departments is not an issue. There were many positive outcomes of the festival."
On the lack of the crowd, he said, "There were many reasons behind this, one was the hot summer. Even then we got a far better response than that of the last year. Our workshops on organic farming get a good response. We are still in the experimental stage as far as the festival is concerned."
Variation in prices
Visitors to the festival complained of a large variation in prices of organic products being sold at the stalls. The price of honey varied from Rs. 200 per kg to Rs. 600 per kg.
"The KVM should fix the price of every commodity," said Hardeep Singh, an organic farmer from Buttna village, who had put up a stall of pickles. Hardeep blamed the organisers for "poor publicity".