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HindustanTimes Tue,16 Sep 2014

Farmers ignorant or adamant?

Prateek Walia, Hindustan Times  Chandigarh, December 03, 2012
First Published: 12:22 IST(3/12/2012) | Last Updated: 13:02 IST(3/12/2012)

The authorities at the ongoing agrotech fair on Saturday made an attempt to educate farmers about benefits and need of organic farming. Considering the plight of farmers in Punjab, the session emphasised on how farmers could improve their situation.

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While experts continued to elaborate on organic farming, its benefits and how one could practice it, the farmers did not pay any attention to their advice. Moreover, less than 10 farmers from Punjab attended this session.

Meanwhile, Rajbeer Singh, trustee and in-charge, All India Pingalwara Charitable Society, Amritsar, said, "Farmers are not willing to listen. Even when they are provided with free literature, they will not care to read it. Instead, they will buy costly pesticides and fertilisers, which would damage the yield and that will consequently lead the farmer to commit suicide due to heavy debts." Singh, who practices organic farming at Pingalwara, distributed books free of cost on 'How to practice Natural Farming' to farmers. "I got the books printed in 'Punjabi' so that the farmers are at ease with the language, but in vain."

Brooding over the problems faced farmers of Punjab, Singh said, "I invite the farmers to learn organic farming and its methods; we also arrange for their food and accommodation free of cost, but they seem to be more interested in attending political rallies." While stating the facts, he said, "Nearly 85 % of insects are crop friendly. We use fertilisers to kill the remaining 15 % the farmers should therefore limit the use of pesticides, but they don't because they continue to shut their ears to these statistics."

He further adds, "Cancer has rooted itself so strongly in the state that people do not know 'Bikaner train' by its name, instead it is referred to as the 'Cancer Train'. This is the extent to which this disease has spread."

Umendra Dutt, executive director, Kheti Virasat Mission--a non-profit organisation that promotes organic farming in Punjab--also featured in Satyamev Jayate, said, "It was the industry that encouraged farmers to use pesticides and fertilisers during the first green revolution, however now they are advocating the complete opposite. It's the model of the industry that is to blame, not the farmers."

CS Aulakh, an agronomist in Punjab Agriculture University, Ludhiana, said, "Farmers don't make much profit out of organic farming, which gives them no reason to practice it. However, farmers should take the advice of agriculture department's to gain maximum output out of non-conventional farming with minimum loss."

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