Farmers go digital: PAU comes up with 'Virtual Kisan Mela'

  • Rameshinder Singh Sandhu, Hindustan Times, Ludhiana
  • Updated: Jun 28, 2015 11:17 IST

Each year, Punjab Agricultural University (PAU) may be organising ‘Kisan Melas’ in various nooks of the state but its very own School of Business Studies (SBS) that falls under the College of Basic Sciences (CBC) for the very first time has come up with ‘Virtual Kisan Mela’ that has connected farmers, farm women and farming associations from various parts of the state and has given them a perfect platform of learn from each other and unfold their innovative and entrepreneurial skills.

It is the SBS’s associate professor of Business Management- Ramandeep Singh who gave birth to this idea who at the same time proved the positivity of the social networking world. It all began through ‘WhatsApp’ –a social networking tool where on two of his old groups –‘Young innovative farmers’ and ‘Punjab Agri Brands’, he just two days ago asked all the farmer members who are about 200 in number to display the pictures of their innovative products from their respective farms and ever since, majority of them have rolled out so many of their products.

“All the farmers who are part of this mela were encouraged by us to be part of social networking and especially use this electronic social application to stay connected with the experts from our school and PAU. They are those who also took various product development trainings post which several of them came out with so many innovative farm products that have also figured out their successful markets. The list is endless –mushrooms, honey, pickles, juices, value added milk products and lot more that they have learnt not only how to pack, label but also the market the products”, shared Singh who further stressed that considering the current farming scenario, farmers must look towards entrepreneurship opportunities if they really want to economically help themselves.

Interestingly, Singh also shared that farmers who have got chance also to explore each other’s products and their inspiring stories of developing these products have also exchanged phone numbers with each other to fortify their minds with new knowledge from each other. Many have also left messages for SBS that such efforts of organising meals through such electronic tools must be made a regular affair, added Singh.

Amrik Singh, Additional Agricultural Officer (AFO) from Gurdaspur who has also motivated many farmers from Gurdaspur, Batala and Jalandhar regions for product development trainings at SBS said with such initiatives, farmers will remain motivated and many more will get galvanised to sail in the same boat as these farmers who have already developed their products from their very own farms and on top of it have developed ‘niche markets’ from them.

Meanwhile, SBS professor Singh shared that besides ‘WhatsApp’ he has also created several other platforms on social networking including facebook and youtube where various achievements and rare examples of different farmers are regularly featured. He is also of the opinion that if all PAU professors and all other agricultural experts must create similar platforms on their expertise many farmers can be rightly benefitted. After all, there are more than 12000 villages in Punjab and with this huge number it is not possible to reach every farmer for giving trainings and latest updates on agriculture. Currently, 5000 farmers including several experts and students are part of it, he underlined.

Examples of some products from the ‘Virtual Kisan Mela’

Honey gift pack by a Patiala farmer

Well designed haldi (termedic powder) by a Gurdaspur farmer

Packed milk bottles by a Rajpura farmer

Different fish varieties by a Ludhiana fish farmer

Homemade Amla candies and marmalades by Bhatinda farm women

Homemade fresh garlic pickle by a self help farming group from Bhatinda

(All products displayed by farmers have also been given brand names by farmers for ensuring their market value).

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