Vice- chancellor (V-C) of Punjab Agricultural University (PAU), Ludhiana, Baldev Singh Dhillon, on Monday said agriculture production would improve on both sides of the border if both Punjab and Pakistan governments gave the nod for the proposed joint agricultural project.
As per the proposal prepared by Dhillon and his team, a Joint Technology Demonstration Centre would be set up at the Indo-Pak (Attari- Wagha) border with 50% area allotted to both sides.
The Centre would be a platform where agricultural scientists and farmers from both sides of the border can discuss various aspects of agriculture, including the hurdles faced by them.
The proposal was made to University of Agriculture in Faisalabad V-C Iqrar Ahmad Khan last December when he visited PAU along with Punjab ( Pakistan) chief minister Mohammad Shahbaz Sharif.
Dhillion said, “There can be regular seminars, conferences on different agricultural issues, research, demonstrations, exhibitions on farming. Guards from India and Pakistan can be deployed at the Centre for security reasons. In fact, the Centre can be demarcated through wires with 50% of the area on both sides. Entry to the Centre should be only through proper security checks.”
He further said other than agricultural prosperity, the initiative would also promote peace and friendly relations between the two sides.
Additional director of research, PAU, JS Dhiman, said farmers and agricultural students, apart from scientists, were excited about the proposal.
He said, “The exposure that farmers and scientists will get through this proposal will be phenomenal. Hope the governments take the project forward. Moreover, bilateral relations of the two nations will gradually fortify.” Pakistan-based Iqrar Ahmad Khan has also welcomed the proposal.
He said, “I fully support the proposal as it can benefit agricultural experts and farmers on both sides. There is a great need to exchange ideas to be innovative. Our Punjab chief minister also wants the two universities to sign a memorandum of understanding but we are waiting for a green signal from the Indian side.” President of Students’ Association, PAU, Karanvir Singh Sandhu, said students often discussed the proposal during their lectures.
He added, “It should not be forgotten that agriculture sector needs diversification and opportunities for import and export. The joint centre can open many doors for us.”
Farmers in the state also believe that the proposal will benefit them. Ludhiana-based farmer Amarbir Singh Deol said through interactions with farmers from Pakistan, he would like to find out how they coped with agricultural issues like drought.
Deol also believed that bilateral relations between India and Pakistan would improve due to the project. Jalandhar-based farmer Dilpreet Singh said, “The Centre will help us become aware of the latest and efficient agricultural techniques.”
He added that village panchyats in the state should provide opportunities for farmers from different economic strata to visit the Centre.